German defense minister: widely used rifle has no future

AP News
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Posted: Apr 22, 2015 10:31 AM
German defense minister: widely used rifle has no future

BERLIN (AP) — A widely used assault rifle has "no future" with the German military in its current form, Germany's defense minister said Wednesday, escalating a dispute over the weapon's alleged shortcomings.

Ursula von der Leyen said last month that a study showed the G36 rifle has a "precision problem, particularly at high temperatures." Manufacturer Heckler & Koch has questioned those conclusions, complained about a lack of consultation and accused the government of damaging its reputation.

After parliament's defense committee met Wednesday, von der Leyen said another expert report finds "the G36 as it is constructed now has no future in the Bundeswehr" — the German military — though she didn't rule out the possibility of using a modified version.

The G36 is a standard weapon for the German military, which currently uses more than 166,000 of them. Germany also has supplied some 8,000 of the rifles to Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State group in northern Iraq.

Von der Leyen herself has faced questions from the media and opposition politicians over how long her ministry has been aware of the extent of problems with the G36. She commissioned a study last summer, six months after taking office, but the ministry acknowledged some problems with its precision three years ago.

Von der Leyen said officials are working urgently to find a replacement, news agency dpa reported. She acknowledged that that it won't be possible to replace the rifles within a year — "it will take longer."