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Turkey’s state-owned Machines and Chemical Industries Board (MKEK) delivered the first 500 serially-produced MPT-76 battle rifles to the Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC).

These units are the first batch from a 2015 deal which will see the production of around 35,000 MPT-76 rifles for the TLFC, Naval Forces Command, and the Gendarmerie General Command. 20,000 of these are being manufactured by MKEK, with the remaining 15,000 being produced by privately owned KaleKalip, which co-designed the weapon.

Land Forces Commander General Salih Zeki Colak said during the ceremony held for the event that the rifles will be a force multiplier for the army. Speaking during the ceremony, Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik said the locally developed rifles will be used in all conditions. He explained that although Turkey’s dependency on foreign defence technologies hasn’t vanished, it has now fallen from 80% 15 years ago to 40% today, Isik added, “Our aim is to decrease that ratio to below 20%.”

According to janes.com, The MPT-76 was designed to meet the Turkish Armed Forces requirement for a new infantry rifle chambered in the NATO 7.62×51 mm cartridge (an international standard for bullet shell size). The MPT-76 rifle will replace about 200,000 G3 rifles made in Turkey under licence from Heckler & Koch.

The Turkish armed forces have the ability to require for as many as 500,000 MPT-76s, principally for the Turkish Army but also to equip personnel across its other service arms.

MKEK will complete delivery of the remaining 19,500 MPT-76s from the country’s first serial order for the rifle by the end of 2017, Isik said.