Africa Aerospace & Defence 2016

Serious firepower [AAD16D3]

16 September 2016

With its proud history going back almost 500 years, to 1526, it is hardly surprising that Beretta (Hangar 3, Stand CW4) remains an innovative company. Having supplied its ARX 160 weapon platform in 5.56mm calibre as the Italian Army’s standard assault rifle, Beretta offers a quick conversion to 7.62mm x 39.

“Operational requirements can change, and when that happens, it is not always cost-effective to acquire an entirely new weapon,” explained Jarno Antonelli, defence and law enforcement communication specialist. “Converting from the smaller calibre requires only a small number of components replaced, including the barrel, slide and magazine. The result is essentially the same weapon with improved firepower.”

In similar vein the ARX 160 platform can be configured to a 9mm submachine gun, according to Antonelli.

Beretta’s latest innovation is the ARX 200 combat rifle. While at first glance similar in appearance to its predecessor, it is significantly different in application. With its .308 calibre, or 7.62 x 51mm NATO, the ARX 200 is a compact rifle for sniper applications. A fixed barrel allows for precision fire less than 1.5 MOA (five rounds at 100m) with ‘match’ ammunition.

“Although the weapon weighs 4kg clean, it is heavier than the conventional assault rifle issued to a soldier,” Antonelli said. “Given that it has 20 rounds in the magazine, as opposed to the ARX 160 assault rifle, it is more suited to an individual in a relatively fixed position.”

This explains the rationale for the ARX 200 to be equipped with the ICS 6x40 combat sight from Steiner, a sister company within the Beretta Defense Technologies (BDT) group. It features a rangefinder capability with an aiming dot alongside the typical cross-hairs reticle to ensure first-hit probability.

Antonelli said the weapon was designed for both left- and right-handed shooters, as all controls are ambidextrous, with the exception of the cartridge ejector located on the left side. The ARX 200 combat rifle can be field stripped without tools.

Benelli Defense, another sister company in the BDT group, is showing the M4 semi-automatic 12-gauge combat shotgun, arguably the most popular and battle-proven of all semi-automatic combat shotguns. It is widely used among many military and police forces throughout the world.

The BDT group was formed in recent years as the strategic alliance of four Beretta Holding defence companies, comprising Beretta, Benelli, Sako of Finland and Steiner in Germany.

(393 words)