Country of origin
5.56 x 45 mm NATO
Cyclic rate of fire
Practical rate of fire
40 - 100 rpm
Range of effective fire
~ 400 m
Mk.3 (Mark 3) is a Myanma-made clone of the NORINCO
assault rifle, made without permission from NORINCO despite claims
from Myanmar that they were made indigenously. They were made by the
Directorate of Defense Industries, using the QBZ-97s exported to
Myanmar as a basis for reverse engineering.
After the initial batch of QBZ-97s were evaluated in 2009,
Myanmar made requests for more QBZ-97s to be purchased. Instead,
NORINCO turned down their request and cancelled all plans for future
transactions due to arms embargos that were imposed on the State
Peace and Development Council-led government after they seized power
at the end of the 8888 Uprising in 1988. After the
first failed attempt to adopt an indigenous bullpup rifle, known as
the EMER-K1, enter service with the Tatmadaw due to feeding problems
and multiple jams (while earning the anger and frustration of
Tatmadaw forces guarding the Yadana gas field when it went
operational in 1998), the QBZ-97 was evaluated again. This time, the
decision made to reverse engineer the rifle and its parts directly.
Though the MA-1 Mk.3 has a number of local modifications.
The first photos of the Mk.3s were publicly seen in 2012 at
various Burmese defense blogging articles, being on display at the
Defence Services Museum, before they would be seen in various
Tatmadaw Armed Forces Day parades. At the same time, the Tatmadaw
would also slowly unveil the use of digital camos to replace their
woodland-type camos in service.
The Tatmadaw had planned to replace the
MA-1 Mk.1/2s with the
MA-1 Mk.3 entirely after the end of 2016. By 2018, the Mk.3 has
been fully fielded sith some MA-1 Mk.1/2s left in service. While they are in widespread service, the MA-3
Mk.3s are the only variant known to be in service only with Myanma
special forces units, including the Special Operations Task Force
and the Myanmar Navy SEALs.
While the design of the Mk.3 is almost the same as the
QBZ-97, the difference lies with the use of brown polymers in its
construction, which consist of phenolic plastic materials. The MA-1
and MA-3 Mk.3 have bayonet lugs on their barrels to have bayonets
mounted underneath, another departure from the QBZ-97 design since
the assault rifle variant is the only one that has a bayonet lug on
Unlike the QBZ-95/97 series, the rifles do not use the Type
95 bayonet or a similar clone. Instead, the Tatmadaw uses a clone of
the Type 81 bayonet meant for the
Mk.3s used by the Tatmadaw are used with waffle-based 5.56x45
NATO 30-round magazines.
seem to be compatible with the same Y/MA 95-002 riflescope as used
in QBZ-95s in the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force, given that
they have the same measurements to have the scopes attached on the
carry handle. So far, they are only seen with models displayed at
the DSM. They are not seen in daily operational use with the
MA-1 Mk.3 -
standard assault rifle version.
MA-2 Mk.3 -
light machine gun version with a long barrel and bipod.
MA-3 Mk.3 –
carbine version with short barrel.
MA-4 Mk.3 –
standard assault rifle with a
BA203 (Burma Army 203)
underbarrel grenade launcher, which
has a pistol grip. This
grenade launcher is a
clone of the Turkish MKEK T-40 grenade launcher and is generally
similar to the American M203.
Article by Mark Soo
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