| Moti Rosen, the vice-president of Israel Military Industries, displays the Tavor. (Reuters)
Kfar Sava (Israel), Aug 10 (Reuters): Israel is replacing its world-famous Uzi sub-machinegun and US-supplied M-16 assault rifle with a new flagship firearm.
The design of the Tavor is based largely on lessons learned during military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against a 34-month-old Palestinian uprising for independence.
The first Tavors, made by Israel Military Industries (IMI), have been issued to elite Israeli infantry units, part of an order of 15,000 announced last month by the defence ministry.
Security sources said deals were under way to sell the weapon, retailing at $1,000, to “friendly foreign clients”.
“The Tavor is probably the finest assault rifle now available. It is a matter of national pride,” Moti Rosen, vice president of the small-arms division at IMI, said today.
Named after a mountain where Biblical Israelites did battle, the Tavor is compact. Its commando variation weighs 2.8 kg compared with the Uzi’s 3.7 kg and M-16’s 3.4 kg. Bullets are loaded through its stock, allowing for a snub barrel.
“The Tavor would be useful anywhere where close quarters battle is the rule, and from vehicles,” said Charles Cutshaw, firearms editor at Jane’s International Defence Review Magazine. It has large vents to prevent dust clogs and sights allowing the shooter to aim with both eyes open.
The Tavor spells the end, locally, of the M-16, a staple assault rifle supplied to Israel since the early 1970s as part of Washington’s annual defence grants. The M-16 has drawn complaints. Designed for Vietnam-style tropics, it jams frequently in the desert. Many of the rifles Israel received were from military surplus and often fatigued.
Nonetheless, Israel long allowed the M-16 to eclipse its Uzi and another IMI-made assault rifle, the Galil.