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Iranian Small Arms Manufacturing Is Bigger Than You Think

October 8, 2018

This 12.7mm machine gun features a redesigned barrel assembly on a receiver copied from the Soviet DShK. Via Mehr News.

The variety of weapons shown at the recent IPAS 2018, a security exhibition in Tehran that took place from October 2 until 4, surpassed anyone’s expectations. While the show was meant to draw prospective suppliers for the Iranian government, local companies participated as well. Foremost was the Defense Industries Organization (DIO) that put up a spacious exhibit to display its small arms. Examining these sheds slight on a crucial aspect of the Iranian state. No matter how difficult the economic sanctions it faces the country will keep arming itself.

While coverage of IPAS 2018 was limited, video clips from Iranian media revealed the DIO’s faultless approach to enhancing its capabilities.

Via Iranian media.

A genuine surprise at the DIO’s exhibit at IPAS 2018 was an automatic grenade launcher on a remote weapon station. Iran’s military have Chinese and Russian auto-grenade launchers but this model is clearly a US-made Mk.19 chambered for 40mm high explosive rounds. Or is it? A handful of countries are able to produce licensed Mk.19’s. But the muzzle brake on the multi-grenade launcher at IPAS 2018 resembles a South Korean copy named the “K4” from S&T Motiv. This isn’t the first time an Iranian weapon system looks like it came from South Korea.

Via Iranian media.

As if a random Mk. 19 weren’t enough, the DIO put a replica M79 grenade launcher on the same shelf as a shortened pump-action shotgun meant for riot control. Considering how both the Artesh and the IRGC have RPG-7 anti-tank rocket launchers and 40mm underbarrel grenade launchers, the M79 is an outlier. But its use might be reserved for the police since the nearby cartridges on the display shelf look like they contain pellets. If the DIO’s M79’s are newly made rather than just refurbished antiques, then Iran and Vietnam are its last remaining producers in the world.

Via Iranian media.

The DIO’s longstanding preference for copying weapons needed by the Artesh and IRGC means this revolver-type grenade launcher didn’t come from South Africa. It’s locally made! To be fair, nearly all of Iran’s neighbors–Azerbaijan, India, Turkey, and Pakistan–have state-owned gunmakers making the same MGLs, albeit with minor differences. So which neighbor shared theirs with the DIO?

Another multi-shot grenade launcher seen at IPAS 2018 has a pump-action firing mechanism and is intended for the police.

Via Iranian media.

Arguably the deadliest portable weapon in the DIO’s catalog is a licensed copy of the RPG-29 called the Ghadir. But wait, is that a Russian anti-material rifle on the shelf below it? Since the beginning of the 2010s Iran’s military have embraced large caliber precision rifles for combat operations in Iraq and Syria. The original favorite used to be a local copy of an Austrian 12.7x99mm rifle. But it looks like other models are now rolling out of the DIO’s factories.

The known anti-material rifles in Iran are copies of the Steyr HS.50, the Barrett M82, and the OSV-96 pictured above. There are also long-range bolt action rifles chambered for 14.5mm and 23mm ammunition. Yes, 23mm.

Via Iranian media.

Of course, Iran’s state-owned gunmakers have a token 5.56x45mm AR-pattern carbine among their faithful reproductions of “Western” firearms. The model displayed at IPAS 2018 is a gas piston variant with a milled aluminum foregrip housing the barrel assembly. Attached is a questionable front sight, a LED flashlight, and an adjustable grip with a collapsible bipod. The GCC should be upset over the Islamic Republic mass-producing so many US weapons they pay billions for.

As Washington, DC’s economic warfare makes life difficult for millions of Iranians it looks like the DIO’s primary business activities are humming along nicely. It proves the argument that antagonizing Iran further makes it more dangerous. Judging by IPAS 2018 it’s clear the DIO isn’t just self-sufficient but also enjoys unrestricted access to Chinese, Korean, and Russian technology along with inputs from mysterious “third parties.”

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