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MA-1 Mk.3

Assault rifle

MA-1 Mk.3 assault rifle

The MA-1 Mk.3 is a modern assault rifle with bullpup design

 
 
Country of origin Myanmar
Entered service 2012 (?)
Caliber 5.56 x 45 mm NATO
Weight 3.4 kg
Length 740 mm
Barrel length 520 mm
Muzzle velocity 930 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 650 rpm
Practical rate of fire 40 - 100 rpm
Magazine capacity 30 rounds
Sighting range 500 m
Range of effective fire ~ 400 m

 

   The MA-1 Mk.3 (Mark 3) is a Myanma-made clone of the NORINCO QBZ-97 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 the barrel.

   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 Type 81 assault rifle.

   Mk.3s used by the Tatmadaw are used with waffle-based 5.56x45 NATO 30-round magazines.

   The Mk.3s 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 Tatmadaw.

 

Variants

 

   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.

 

Mark Soo

   Article by Mark Soo

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MA-1 Mk.3 assault rifle

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MA-1 Mk.3 assault rifle

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MA-1 Mk.3 assault rifle

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MA-1 Mk.3 assault rifle

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MA-1 Mk.3 assault rifle

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