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Vietnamese Army Embraces New Assault Rifle

March 10, 2014

Vietnamese soldiers

Vietnam, which maintains one of the largest militaries in Southeast Asia, is slowly acquiring advanced weapons and equipment for its armed forces. Last month IHS Janes confirmed a new small arms factory is now operational in Thanh Hoa, a province in the country’s northeast.

It was built with the help of Israeli Weapon Industries (IWI), who allegedly invested $100 million, and is believed to play a crucial role in re-equipping Vietnamese soldiers with contemporary small arms. Foremost is the Galil ACE, a modernized version of the original Galil based on the AK-47.

Most online fora and news outlets are speculating whether the Galil ACE is the upcoming battle rifle for the Vietnamese People’s Army (VPA).

According to IWI’s website, the Galil ACE is available in three calibers and is customizable with tactical gear via Picatinny mounts. In keeping with current small arms trends, the Galil ACE features an improved muzzle brake, a retractable butt stock, ambidextrous pistol grip, and polymer foregrips along the barrel assembly.

The original Galil is among the most successful AK-47 derivatives. Widely exported throughout the developing world, licensed-made copies are mass-produced in Colombia and South Africa, where it’s called the R4 by that country’s soldiers and policemen. Myanmar is even suspected of clandestinely manufacturing their own Galil knock offs without a license.

Details behind this joint venture between IWI and the Vietnamese government are scarce. As early as 2012, however, Israel’s Globe-Online broke the news regarding the hush-hush arrangement and revealed the deal could have dated to 2011. As a result of deteriorating relations with China, the VPA is trying to modernize its vast and diverse arsenal. Although its different branches maintain large numbers of ships, tanks, aircraft, missiles, and helicopters, many are aging and obsolete.

In the past several years the government of Vietnam has poured billions on new Sukhoi fighter jets, submarines, and patrol craft.