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Azerbaijan Makes Its Own Heavy Machine Gun

September 25, 2022
Via ADEX 2022/

Small arms production continues to flourish as MODIAR–a state-owned holding called the the Ministry of Defense Industry of Azerbaijan Republic–expands its production beyond light weapons. At the ADEX 2022 arms show that took place from September 6 until 8 in Baku a new weapon was shown at MODIAR’s stall. The heavy machine gun had a familiar appearance but careful scrutiny showed little in common with the Russian-made Kord. The weapon looks like an unlicensed copy of a Soviet NSV machine gun featuring many small improvements over the original model it imitates.

MODIAR’s small arms factory seem to have used the Soviet vintage NSV heavy machine gun that’s often mounted on tanks as the basis for a new portable firearm. To date, MODIAR includes “heavy” infantry weapons such as the SPG-9 recoilless rifle; the AGS-17 and AGS-30 automatic grenade launchers; a complete set of mortars; and large caliber anti-material rifles in its catalog. When it comes to this exotic heavy machine gun, the pistol grip of an assault rifle and a trigger assembly was added in lieu of the usual button trigger while a bulky plastic composite stock is attached. There’s even a small container on the stock that’s supposed to rest on the gunner’s shoulder and in all likelihood stores a cleaning kit.

An obvious departure for this heavy machine gun is its employment of a bipod, which is fixed under the gas tube, rather than the bulky foldable tripods Soviet and Russian heavy machine guns have. Bipods on 12.7x108mm heavy machine guns tend to be improvised and surged in popularity during the 2010s as Russian troops got involved in foreign wars. Azerbaijan’s MODIAR may have taken cues from the army’s own long experience in battles against Armenia and then Russia’s airborne and special forces branches use of heavy machine guns before coming up with their own solution.

It’s important to point out this specific machine gun that was displayed at ADEX 2022 is different from the Russian-Kord in many aspects. These are noticeable in the shape of the bulky flash hider/muzzle brake, a wider front sight, and a heavier barrel assembly. The location of the carrying handle–it flips either upward or downward–is altered too. But like the Kord and its predecessors there’s a mount for an optical sight next to the open rear sight located behind the ammo feed and its latch. At ADEX 2022 a rifle scope is added to the heavy machine gun on display. Using a scope on this type of heavy machine gun allows the gunner to take careful aim at distances far beyond open sights.

Unlicensed Soviet vintage heavy machine guns are produced in far greater numbers than expected. In Belarus and Poland, for example, the “Utios” is the official brand for their NSV copies from state-owned manufacturers. In Belarus it’s the “NSVP 12.7mm Utios” while in Poland it’s “NSW-Utios.” A similar heavy machine gun is found in Ukraine called “NSVT 12.7” while Serbia’s Zastava small arms factory offers the “MO2 Coyote.” What makes the NSV and its descendants popular is they are compatible with a lot of inventories–Soviet vintage tanks like the T-72 still have them–and their reliability. Ammunition is widely available from many sources.

Outside Europe active production lines for NSV heavy machine guns are found in Kazakhstan, India, and Vietnam. Since the 2000s, however, Chinese-made heavy machine guns have grown in popularity for being well-designed and less cumbersome than older heavy machine guns like the M2 Browning and the DShK or “Dushka,” both of which enjoy unlicensed production in several countries. Azerbaijan’s MODIAR is now in direct competition with its neighbors, including Armenia, where a factory to assemble AK-103 assault rifles was opened in 2020. MODIAR’s small arms plant makes both AK-74M and AK-103’s and these are for export. The Republic of Georgia also has a state-owned factory for assault rifles chambered for the original Kalashnikov’s 7.62x39mm ammunition.

In short, the difficult politics of the Caucasus region makes it a hotbed for small arms manufacturing. This is without further acknowledgement that nearby Turkiye and Iran have immense production volumes for the same.

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