Guns and Gear

Iran Makes A Big Show Of Unveiling ‘Homegrown’ Weapons. Turns Out They’re Probably Knock Offs

The Iranian military showcased five new weapons that it claimed were developed in country, but it appears most of them are knock offs.

These are not the first instances of Iran cloning foreign weapons, in fact, the country has practically mastered the art. The Iranians have cloned everything from assault rifles to fighter jets. A significant portion of the sizable Iranian missile arsenal is based on designs from China, Russia and North Korea.

Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan unveiled the Fajr-5 guided rocket, the Misaq-3 shoulder-launched missile, a 40mm grenade launcher, the MASAF assault rifle and a new pistol, reported Tasnim news, a known government mouthpiece, on Monday. Dehqan touted the “homegrown” weapons as a major accomplishment, but the rocket and MASAF rifle are most likely nothing but clones of foreign designs.

The Fajr-5 is a guided artillery rocket with a range of 46 miles. Iran is believed to have modeled it after a Chinese import, known as the WS-1 MLRS. The rocket was first imported by Iran in the late 1980s and early 1990s and has been tinkered with ever since.

The MASAF rifle, which chambers the 5.56 x 45 mm NATO round, is most likely a clone of the Hekler and Koch 416 rifle, an AR-15 variant. The supposedly home-grown Iranian rifle shares several similarities to the HK416, including a similar operating rod, raised optics rail and grooved barrel nut.

Aside from the possible propaganda value added by a domestically developed arsenal, the Iran’s cloning of foreign weapons serves a pragmatic purpose as well. The country is frequently the target of international arms sanctions, which forces Iran’s domestic military complex to develop its own versions of various weapons platforms.

Dehqan claimed that Iranian domestic weapons production has increased by 69 percent over the last three years, but the Islamic Republic has also gone on a weapons-buying spree since the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also know as the JCPOA or Iran nuclear deal. The deal removed several sanctions on Iran, allowing the Islamic Republicto  began negotiating an arms deal with Russia worth $10 billion in November. Once finalized, the deal would include the advanced T-90 battle tank, artillery pieces and various aircraft.

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