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Small Arms Data by Wire (SADW): September 1998

By Nick Steadman

SADW is a monthly electronic publication from Nick Steadman Features. Nick, intrepid world traveling reporter for much of the arms industry, files this 40,000 to 50,000 word report once a month to his loyal subscribers. Those lucky ones pay a mere $50 (US) £32.50 (UK) per year for the privilege of getting the hot tips and insights from one of the industry’s insiders. Nick’s unique perspective is globally based, as is his wit. Each issue is full of insight and information for those with an interest in Small Arms, as well as his observations on world travel.

1. NEW WEAPONS & EQUIPMENT

NEW SSK INDUSTRIES SUPPRESSED M700 RIFLE: a new covertly suppressed Remington M700 rifle has been shown by SSK Industries of Ohio. At first glance it appears to be fitted with a conventional heavy varmint barrel, but this is in reality an external casing which conceals the barrel and suppressor proper. Designer JD Jones says it is intended to appeal to police and other users who would rather not reveal they are using suppressed weapons. It will be offered in SSK’s proprietary .300 Whisper and .338 Whisper chamberings and has a special scope mount which is tilted forward to facilitate the extra elevation required by subsonic ammunition.

SSK has also launched new M16/M4 upper receiver conversions with the carrying handle cut away to accept an Ultradot 4-Dot optical sight, but iron sights are also provided and can be used while looking through the optical sight. We’ve handled the system and it works well. The M16/M4 conversion complete with standard (single dot) Ultradot sight costs about $295, but the 4-Dot with variable dot size will obviously be more. DPMS in the USA will be offering these conversions from Aug 98.

REMINGTON ‘SCOUT RIFLE’: we suggested in the past that Remington, Ruger & Winchester might have missed a trick by not coming out with their own ‘Scout’ rifles while Steyr-Mannlicher was still pondering its own design. Well, Remington does now have something along these lines, though it’s admittedly not as fancy as the Austrian product. We’ve looked one over, and it handles very nicely.

We’re talking about the new .308 Remington M700 Police Lightweight Tactical Rifle (M700P LTR), which has a slim black H-S Precision composite stock with the usual aluminium bedding bar, plus a 20” fluted barrel, for a bare weight of 7.5 pounds sans scope mounts or bipod, with which the weight rises to around 10.3 pounds.

It has the new detachable Remington box magazine and dual sling studs, allowing simultaneous fitting of a Harris bipod and a sling. Length of pull is 13.5” and rifling twist 1:12”. Overall metal finish is parkerized black. The LTR is available now and whilst it is being sold in the USA through Remington’s law enforcement wholesalers, it is also freely available to any sporting shooters who wish to order it. US retail is in the region of $650.

MANFRED FIESS TARGET RIFLES: among the items being promoted at the 1998 SHOT Show were high-tech, aluminium-stocked target rifles from Manfred Fiess Precision Engineering (MFPE) in South Africa, designed for Palma-type matches. These bolt-action weapons (known locally as Space Guns) have skeletonised fully-adjustable buttstocks, adjustable triggers, three-lug bolts and scope mounting dovetails. Stocks come in several epoxy-coated anodized finishes - Electric Blue, Metallic Gold. Aurora Purple, Ruby Red and Panther Black. Fiess himself is billed as a former world champion target shooter with 30 years’ experience. (E-mail: mfpe@iafrica.com, WWW - http://www.tradepretoria.co.za/companies/MFPE/)

SIG POLYMER-FRAMED PRO PISTOLS: one we don’t recall being at the 1998 SHOT Show (but which we recently examined in the USA) was the SIG Pro Sport SP2340 pistol, a new black polymer-framed design with interchangeable composite or rubberized wrap-round grip panels (a la Walther P99) and drop-out modular trigger/hammer mechanisms allowing rapid conversion from DA/SA to DAO operation.

External appearance of the solid stainless slide (finished in black) is still very much SIG/Sauer, but the magazine release is triangular and there is a long extended slide release. However, the safety/decocking lever follows much the usual design of this producer. A flat recoil spring along P239 lines is installed, and there is a very substantial slide rail unit about 2” long pinned into the frame. The grip frame is cut away at the bottom to accept the magazine baseplate, and capacity of the modified P229 magazines is ten rounds. It’s also worth noting that there is a dovetail in the underside of the tip of the frame for mounting accessories such as flashlights, along the same lines already pursued by H&K and Glock.

The SP2340 will be available in Jul 98 in .357SIG calibre, followed by .40 S&W. In Feb 99 is should be available in 9x19mm, but there is apparently no plan for a .45 ACP version.

NEW FRANKONIA PRECISION RIFLE: Deutsches Waffen-Journal (DWJ) ran a short item on a new .308 precision (aka sniper) rifle from Frankonia Jagd in Wurzburg, based on an M98 Mauser action with 50cm FN heavy sniper barrel 25mm in diameter, FAL-style detachable flash hider and laminated wood Sto-Con stock with skeletonised buttstock and adjustable rubber buttpad.

The weapon is drilled & tapped for scope mounts and has a five-shot magazine. It was shown fitted with a Parker-Hale/Bren-type bipod mounted in the accessory rail. Overall finish is matte black. Bare weight is 4.9kg. (Frankonia: Tel (+49) 9302-2082).

MODEL AW/THUNDERTRAP COMBINATION RE-TESTED: in previous issues we related how we managed only to achieve dreadful accuracy with 200gr Lapua subsonic ammunition fired in the CFI Special .308 Accuracy International Model AW rifle with 20” barrel and AWC Thundertrap muzzle suppressor. We concluded - quite reasonably - that the high bullet weight and subsonic velocity were incompatible with the standard 1:12” twist of this rifle’s barrel, and that the long boattail bullets might be yawing against the inner bore of the can. But this did not explain why accuracy with 147gr ball ammunition was also dreadful through the suppressor.

In Jun 98 we returned to the SLSA ranges in West Virginia and re-tested the same rifle with standard-velocity ammunition, in this case 147gr remanufactured ball from Talon Manufacturing. All shooting (bar five rounds in the first series) was by SADW, at 100 yards, with results as below:-

Series 1: 2 x 5rds at 100x (2 firers) - no hits on 4” steel plate (group size about 4 feet)

Series 2: 5rds at 100x - all hits - all rounds in about 2” on a 9” steel plate

Series 3: 5rds at 100x - no hits on 9” steel plate (group size about 2 feet)

Series 4: Approx 15 rds - no hits on steel targets (group size about 4 feet)

As you will note, Series 2 was a curiosity, and had we then ceased firing we might have been convinced the problem had ‘gone away’, but in fact it was an aberration, as later series demonstrate. When firing was completed, the bore of the suppressor was subjected to careful examination, and there appeared to be at least two nicks, one on either side of a baffle about two inches from the business end of the can. Accordingly, we conclude that the bullets were in fact striking the suppressor bore, as we suspected.

Though we did not have the tools to accurately measure the bore of the suppressor, the exit aperture was measured at .364”. Another suppressor designer told us he uses .340 to .375” for the bore of his own .308 cans. We felt, in the circumstances, that the rifle and suppressor should be returned to the distributor for inspection.

Interestingly, a short while prior to this latest test we heard from Engel Ballistic Research Inc (E-mail: engelbr@swbell.net) in the USA, who wrote:-

‘I have to contest your comment that a 200-gr. subsonic pill is “not really suitable for use with standard rifling twists and definitely not if the weapons are suppressed”. There is far more to the problem than this statement would lead your readers to believe; it is complicated. It very much depends on what *shape* of projectile one is utilizing. We are producing a *220-gr.*, .30 cal. subsonic which is performing excellently, both suppressed, and unsuppressed in twists as slow as 1:12” Articles, I understand will be forthcoming. Additionally, tooling is presently being procured to allow us to go into the projectile manufacturing business to further improve the product. First on the agenda is a .30 cal heavy subsonic which will evidence phenomenal expansion at subsonic velocities.....stay tuned.’

In response to these comments we suggested to Engel that the person they really needed to convince was Al Paulson, the suppressor whiz who formerly wrote for Machine Gun News (and now for Small Arms Review & others). We understand Paulson has been contacted and await his findings with interest.

Engel also told us that they had ‘just signed an agreement with Picatinny Arsenal for some research that should answer many questions (with respect to) subsonic projectile behaviour, and testing will commence when the parameters are better determined, and samples of the actual projectiles to be examined are produced’.

MOD POLICE ‘UTILITY WEAPON SYSTEM’: the UK MOD Light Weapons procurement staff have come up with a new requirement for a ‘Utility Weapon System’ for use by the MOD Police (MDP), which is nowadays routinely armed with 9mm pistols and the 5.56mm SA80. Formerly it also had 9mm Sterling SMGs. Armed MDP officers (both male & female) guard sensitive or vulnerable military establishments throughout the UK. The MDP is one of several ‘non-Home Office’ police forces in the UK - the Atomic Energy Authority and British railways also have their own police organisations. We guess the MDP has decided (no surprise) that SA80 is not a classic police item, and the present requirement is for 1,500 new, lightweight & compact weapons which can be carried hands-free but are capable of accurate use out to 200m. At this range they should be able to defeat soft body armour and incapacitate the wearer without over-penetration. Only off-the-shelf products will be considered.

Planned in-service date is Dec 99, and half the 1,500 weapons would need to have been delivered by then, with the rest by Apr 2000. The MOD wants to have 12 trials samples in Dec 98. Deadline for expressions of interest is 31 Jul 98, to UK Tel (0117)913-1370. ISO 9002 quality standards apply.

Well now, a very interesting one, which at first reading rather sounds as if it was drafted around the 5.7mm P-90 or something similar. The body armour defeat criteria MOD has specified rule out most 9x19mm ammunition, particularly at a range of 200m, so it’s a toss-up between 5.7x28mm and 5.56x45mm.

Our suggestion would be one of the ultra-compact 5.56mm weapons now available, and by far the best tried & tested of these would have to be the Heckler & Koch HK53, which is the same size as the 9mm MP5. This design offers better performance than anything in 5.7mm, fires an existing service cartridge and is already used by UK special forces and Military Police close protection teams. It is also very controllable, even in burstfire, due to its ‘short, sharp’ recoil characteristics.

WINCHESTER 9MM ‘RANGE AMMUNITION’: in our last issue we noted that Winchester had introduced a new Range Ammunition line, intended exclusively for bulk purchase by clubs & ranges for resale to shooters on the premises. In Jun 98 we expended 300 rounds of the 9mm ball loading (115gr @1,155 fps) in an MP5 SMG during a US visit and can report that it functioned faultlessly with no malfunctions of any kind. Accuracy was good and control of the weapon even in sustained burstfire was excellent. The new, brass-jacketed bullets loaded in this ammunition, which are designed to produce smaller fragments, do indeed - as claimed - break up very well against steel targets.

At very close range we occasionally sensed what appeared to be tiny airborne particles, but nothing of any significance. However, as with any shooting training using steel targetry, it is advisable to stand off at least seven or ten yards from the target, and always to wear eye protection of some kind.

Having since talked with Olin/Winchester staff, it seems there is, after all, nothing significant about the withdrawal of Olin ‘White Box’ milspec ammunition from the commercial market last year, and the appearance soon after of equivalent ammunition from Federal. We thought this might have been the result of Federal taking over military orders from Olin, but - as we recall - Olin staff said the only order they had lost in recent years was a 9mm contract for the US Navy. However, Firearms Business in the USA says there is a definite price war under way between Winchester & Federal in the centrefire rifle ammunition market, and that Federal is also looking to discount its shotgun cartridges.

WALTHER PPK IN 5.45MM: Visier magazine reported that a firm in Schwabia, Kirstein Technische Systeme (KTS) had made ten prototypes of a Walther PPK pistol chambered for the Russian 5.45x18mm cartridge. The PPKs have nice stippled wooden grip panels and are built from original unused Walther parts. Barrels are threaded for suppressors, but the threads are normally covered by a neat thread protector. Two types of suppressor are offered, a throwaway version good for 50 rounds or a long-life steel model. A twin-stack version of the pistol with 15-round magazine is also being considered. KTS says it is also working on a gas-operated, locked-breech pistol of its own design with electronic shot date recording. The company’s bread & butter lines are customised/tuned Lugers and M1911s. (WWW - http://www.kirstein.com/w/)

NEW 5.56mm CANADIAN BALL ROUND: SNC Industrial Technologies in Canada has developed a ‘5.56mm Improved Penetrator’ cartridge which dispenses with the two-part core of the SS!09/M855 bullet and uses instead a solid, one-piece jacketed core of 4140 steel with much the same hardness as the penetrator tip of the NATO projectile. Bullet weight is 3.8g and complete round weight 12.3g. SNC says the internal and external ballistics of the new round are similar to those of the NATO cartridge and the wound ballistics meet international humanitarian criteria. Of course, the new bullet is also lead-free, which will meet growing environmental concerns. However, we imagine the main advantage will be seen in operational performance. SNC says the bullet is more robust than the NATO projectile, and by eliminating the compound core and substituting a much harder material than lead, we would expect the bullet integrity to be greatly superior.

H&K INTEREST IN .300 WHISPER: we were advised recently that Heckler & Koch Inc had obtained .300 Whisper ammunition & dies from SSK Industries in Ohio, so it’s logical to assume that H&K wishes to experiment with this wildcat in some of its 5.56mm weapons. Apparently the HK53 is an unlikely testbed, so our money’s on the new G36. Separately, SIG is already known to have experimented with .300 Whisper, presumably in the SG550 series.

NEW NSWC WEAPON MOUNTS: the US Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) at Crane has come up with three new machine gun mounts in the last year or so. A new, lightweight aluminium twin 7.62mm M240 (MAG 58) mount has been developed for naval special forces boats and vehicles, and will be introduced next year. It will be in two versions with (optionally) a 200 or a 600-round belt box each side. A single-gun M240 mount was shown in 1997. Last year we also saw NSWC’s new Mk94 Mod 1 helicopter door mount for a single .50 AN-M2 machine gun demonstrated in Nevada. This system, with overboard brass/links chute, has since been type certified for the SH-60B special operations Sea Hawk and is also suitable for other helicopters in the same family.

TNW SEMI-AUTO BROWNING MGs: TNW Inc in Portland (Oregon) is offering remanufactured semi-auto only .50 M2HB (on M3 tripod) and .30 M19A4 Browning (on MAG58 tripod) machine guns, which are BATF legal to own in the USA without NFA licences. The M19A6 Browning can also be supplied in 7.62mm NATO or .30-06 calibre with bipod & shoulder stock. Training manuals, ball & blank ammunition, links and ammo boxes are also stocked (TNW Inc, Portland, OR, E-mail: Model1919@aol.com).

MAX-50 SCOPE RINGS: Badger Ordnance in Rapid City (S. Dakota), has new Max-50 steel scope rings designed specifically for use with .50 BMG calibre rifles. They fit the milspec Picatinny Rail, and are also compatible with Leupold & Weaver bases. Badger claims they offer a 60% greater clamping surface than comparable rings. Six Torx scope securing screws are used on each ring, which has a half-inch hex-head clamping nut. Basic ring size is 30mm, but 1” adapters are available. Rings are manufactured as matched pairs. (Contact: Badger Ordnance, PO Box 3277 Rapid City, SD 57709, USA, Tel/Fax(605)348-2230)

DURRA ARMS FROM PAKISTAN: two new AK variants, both apparently hand-made weapons from Durra in Pakistan, have reportedly arrived with research staff in the UK. One is a 7.92mm bolt-action with a Bren LMG-style magazine, the other an AK-74 clone marked .222 Rem.

2. INDUSTRY & FOREIGN NEWS

US HANDGUN EXPORT SUSPENSION ILLUSORY: despite the top billing given by US and British newspapers in May to the alleged State Department ban on handgun exports to the UK (see the previous issue), our own enquiries suggest the whole affair was actually hyped up out of all proportion to its real impact, which appears to be minimal. We spoke to a major UK importer who still handles pistols & revolvers, and were told that while their export licences for handguns were indeed reviewed by the US authorities, these have since been fully reinstated, and their business in both handguns and long guns continues unaffected.

Curiously, black powder guns, though not technically ‘firearms’ under US legislation, were included in the review, but we can’t imagine why, since it seem unlikely even the most backward state opposed to US policies would need to re-equip with muzzle-loaders. Our source believes what sparked the review was the fact that licences are often granted to cover transactions some years ahead.

When it became apparent the UK government was going to ban private handgun possession, someone in the US administration got jumpy and thought they’d better check the handgun component of outstanding export permits, lest anyone was shipped guns they couldn’t own after the British cutoff date. You’ll recall that throughout all this there was no evidence of any definitive official policy statement from the US State Department - and only a fairly brusque riposte from the British authorities referring to the effectiveness of existing UK controls, all of which led us to wonder how serious it really was. ‘Much ado about nothing’ now seems to be the answer.

Another UK source also showed us a request he’d sent to the US Office of Export Control Policy seeking authorisation for a customer to re-export US-made ammunition to a third country. The US authorities hadn’t even bothered to respond, which suggests the whole affair is indeed a storm in a teacup.

SOUTH AFRICA ARMING LIBYA: the Sunday Telegraph reported that South Africa had reached agreement with Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi on a $300m deal whereby the South Africans would supply weapons & spares to Libya in return for cheap oil. The agreement, which is said to include upgrading Libyan systems and supplying advanced SAMs, as well as the possible sale of the South African Rooivalk helicopter, was reportedly negotiated by ‘secret service’ staff on behalf of President Mandela, who has often acknowledged Libya’s past support for the ANC.

However, the paper says it breaches the UN embargo against arms & other sales to Libya, which (not least due to unfinished business over the Pan Am 103 bombing) the USA still regards as a pariah state. But a South African official was quoted as saying “We will do business with any country that will reciprocate.” The report said there are wider Western concerns related to the possibility that South Africa might also supply Libya with much sought-after chemical & biological weapons knowhow Pretoria acquired during apartheid. It has recently been revealed that blacks in South Africa were secretly targeted with weapons of this ilk under government plans.

Whilst appreciating that sovereign states are entitled to maintain cordial diplomatic relations with whoever they wish, regardless of US pressure, the new South Africa does now rather seem to be losing sight of the ball. Though cash-strapped US defence manufacturers are themselves keen to get a foot in the South African door, Mandela’s obvious determination to help re-arm Libya now risks renewed US government sanctions against his own defence industry. South Africa has to grasp the nettle and understand that it cannot expect to receive continued Western support while pursuing a completely indiscriminate policy of arming all-comers.

We understand the temptation, given the desperation of the country’s arms producers in the post-apartheid era, but these short-sighted policies will only bring South Africa into disrepute and damage its international prospects.

UK FATS SYSTEM UPGRADE: the UK MOD has contracted with FATS Inc in Georgia for a third software upgrade for its 160 Small Arms Trainer (SAT) systems. There are expected to be sub-contractor opportunities for provision of some new PC hardware and for linking the SAT systems by modem. Contact FATS Inc in the USA immediately if interested, on Tel(770)622-3357, fax 3505.

POPEYE ENTERS THE EOD BUSINESS: Sunday Business in the UK said that boffins at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in the USA had found that nitroreductase enzymes derived from spinach could break down common explosives such as TNT (trinitrotoluene). It could be a significant discovery, since the US apparently has half a million tonnes of old explosives to get rid of. It might cause a national spinach crisis, but that’s another story.

ALBANIAN WEAPONS WITH KOSOVANS: an Observer report said that some of the million-odd weapons and associated ammunition heisted from Albanian deports during the 1997 unrest in that country were selling to the Kosovo Liberation Army for defence against Serbian attacks. The guns are traded from open-air bazaars in Albanian border towns and collected by Kosovan mule trains.

RUSSIAN AMMUNITION FIRE: AP reported in mid-Jun 98 that a fire at an ammunition storage facility in the Urals killed 13 Russian troops and a police officer, and injured another 17. Four more were posted as missing.

THE SPIRIT OF EXPERIMENTATION LIVES ON: a Times story in June of an unfortunate rifle accident also served to remind us that the spirit of schoolboy firearms experimentation is still alive & well, despite the decidedly less enlightened times we live in. Long may it last.

It appears that a group of teenaged boys at a Dorset public school was trying to establish the velocity of a rifle bullet as part of a physics experiment. Unfortunately, the weapon was unintentionally fired at some point in the experiment, and a 17-year-old operating a laptop computer received a .22 bullet in the shoulder from behind, collapsing his lung. A subsequent report said doctors had decided it was safer to leave the bullet in the boy rather than to try to dig it out from near his heart.

Perhaps needless to say - in this day & age - the target rifle involved was taken away for forensic examination, though what on earth this was likely to achieve remained unclear - it doesn’t really sound like an assassination attempt now, does it?

LAST FREE-FALL NUKE HAULED AWAY: Royal Air Force News carried a report towards the end of June on the delivery of the RAF’s last WE-177 free-fall nuclear bomb to the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment for ‘decommissioning’. The WE-177 first entered RAF service in 1975.

LAW 80 REPLACEMENT PROPOSED: The Franco-British group Matra-BAe Dynamics and Lockheed Martin’s Electronics & Missiles Division have jointly proposed a new short-range anti-armour weapon called Kestrel as a replacement for the British army’s LAW 80. The UK MOD Staff Target calls for an in-service date of Dec 2005. Kestrel, an improved version of the US Marine Corps’ Predator, also from Lockheed Martin, is a top-attack ‘fire & forget’ guided weapon, unlike LAW 80 which merely has a 9mm spotting rifle for ranging.

AUSTRALIAN MINIMI UPGRADES: our sources in Australia tell us that ‘virtually all’ the 5.56mm F-89 (ADI-manufactured FN Minimi) LMGs in Australian service have been ugraded to F89A1 standard. The upgrade so far comprises an improved extractor, a hydraulic buffer (along the lines of the US M249A1) and a quick-detach Steyr AUG optical sight mounted on the feed cover. Front & rear iron sights have been removed - possibly not the best idea.

Apparently this is only stage one of the programme - the final aim (theoretically by Aug 98) is to fit a Picatinny Rail and a new optical sight, for which the favourite, as far as Australian Defence Industries (ADI) are concerned, is reportedly the Canadian ELCAN. Separately, we understand that the New Zealand army has modified some of its own F-89s by the addition of a MAG-58 gas regulator system, which they claim is quite easy to fit.

We’re also told that the Australian army is seriously considering the reintroduction of belt-fed 7.62mm NATO GPMGs (most likely the Saco M60E4) into the machine-gun group within the infantry section (US = squad), and relegating the Minimi to the rifle group. This is a particularly interesting development, mirroring similar moves in the US forces - which have however sidelined the M60 in favour of the MAG 58. How long before other armies, such as in the UK, follow this example?

CLIPPED COMMENTS: we took a little dig on the Internet at UK police officers who consider it necessary - and appropriate - to clip two 30-round magazines together on their (semi-automatic only) MP5 carbines. Swift as an arrow came a response from one of the officers concerned, saying they preferred the double magazine clips so that they could dispense with magazine pouches on their belts. These are liable to catch on things when clambering through windows or fall off, risking opprobrium in the press if they’re found. Sorry, guys - but it still gives the wrong impression. Anyway, the 15-round MP5 magazines would fit handily in a pocket, never mind pouches or clips.

BANGLADESH ARMS SMUGGLERS NABBED: a UNI report in early Jun 98 said that 26 armed smugglers were detained by the Indian Navy & Coastguard at the end of May off two Thai-registered trawlers which had a cargo of ‘arms, ammunition and explosives’ from the Burma/Thai border. The vessels were reportedly en route to Bangladesh, but were set on fire when the Indian patrol approached.

INDIANS HAVE DRAGUNOVS: AFP photos which recently appeared showed Indian troops in Kashmir equipped with a 7.62mm Bren LMG and a Dragunov sniper rifle, which we don’t recall seeing with this country before.

IMPACT OF ASIAN WEAPONS SLUMP: Newsweek reported that whilst in 1987 Asia imported just 25% of all conventional arms, by 1997 it was taking almost 50%, the increase representing a jump from $130Bn a year in 1985 to $165Bn a decade later. Now everything’s on hold, but the magazine suggests that since India & Pakistan have meanwhile substantially raised the nuclear stakes, there may well be a buying splurge when the Asian financial crisis passes.

AK-47 ‘ND’ GETS FIVE: the PTI news agency said that five people were hit in early June when AK-47 rifles were being handed out to security staff in Shimla, India, prior to a visit by the Indian president. One gun apparently ‘went off’ unintentionally, presumably in full-auto. Three of the victims were seriously wounded.

ZIMBABWE TROOPS UNPREPARED: a Wall Street Journal Europe report said the Zimbabwean army is in a terrible state, with poor rations, tatty uniforms and barely habitable accommodation. Troops are sent on leave to save the $2 daily mess bills, but at least the military coffin production line shaves two-thirds off the cost of disposal of those who die in harness.

PALESTINIANS STOCKPILING WEAPONS? The Times reported towards the end of May 98 that Israeli military sources believed the Palestinian Authority was stockpiling weapons, which were thought either to have been smuggled in from the Sinai or illicity produced in workshops in the Gaza strip.

20MM & 30MM NAVAL CANNON AMMO: the UK Royal Navy is looking for 30,000 rounds of 20mm TP-T and 25,000 rounds of 30mm TP/TPT target practice cannon ammunition for delivery in FY 98/99. Expressions of interests are sought by 2 Sep 98. UK Contact Tel (0117)913-1241. Royal Ordnance is the sole UK manufacturer of these natures.

BUST SOME CAPS WITH THE THAI ARMY: the Bangkok Post said that the Thai army planned to offer a range of tourist activities at some of its bases, in order to raise extra cash. Shooting, parachuting and survival training were among the activities on the Thai’s list. We imagine they probably got the idea from the PLA in China.

40MM MGL IN COLOMBIA: The Guardian ran an excellent photo in mid-May of a Colombian soldier armed with a South African 40mm MGL multi-shot grenade launcher complete with Armson OEG sight and a webbing chest rig holding at least a dozen 40mm grenade cartridges.

KOSOVO - THE FINAL INSULT: a report in The European said that Serb troops had been spotted attacking villages in Kosovo with some of the 14 armoured personnel carriers stolen from Dutch peacekeeping forces in Jul 95. The YPR-765 vehicles are fitted with heavy machine guns. Only six have so far been recovered.

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