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France upgrades small arms with Glock pistols, SCAR precision rifle procurements

France began replacing the FAMAS with the HK 416 in 2017

France’s military has chosen the fifth-generation Glock 17 pistols to replace its aging supply of MAC 50s and PAMAS G1s, the defense ministry announced on Monday, January 6.

The country’s armed forces will also soon obtain a number of FN SCAR rifles for snipers, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly tweeted Monday.

The procurements are the latest small arms upgrades by the French Armed Forces, which began replacing the iconic but dated FAMAS assault rifle in 2017 with the German-made HK 416.

The first new Glocks have already arrived, Parly said, and a total of 74,596 are expected to be delivered by 2022.

“[A] new generation semi-automatic pistol (Glock) is arriving to the forces which will replace the current pistols whose design dates from the [19]50s,” Parly tweeted, in reference to the 9 mm MAC 50, in operation since France’s colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria.

The defense ministry announced the Glock 17s would also replace the military’s supply of PAMAS G1 pistols – a modified version of the Beretta 92 – which entered service in 1989 with the National Gendarmerie.

The €44 million ($49 million) contract with Glock also includes the Czech Republic-based Sellier and Bellot for ammunition and with UTM for parts to modify the Glocks for training purposes.

Roughly 80% of the new handguns will go to the French army, with another 10% for the air force and 8% for the navy.

“The key factors which led the Ministry of the Armed Forces to accept this offer are the reliability and robustness demonstrated during the tests, essential qualities for military equipment intended to be used in the event of rapid action and the need for self-protection,” the ministry said.

France to procure SCAR-H precision rifles

France will also receive 2,620 SCAR-H PRs by 2022, the ministry said, replacing the FR F2 rifle in service since the 1980s. Both rifles have an effective range of 800 m.

“This rifle is intended to equip the snipers of our armed forces,” the ministry said. “It will allow them to maintain superiority over the adversaries they face in the theaters of external operations.”

The SCAR-H PR (Special Operations Combat Action Rifle – Heavy, Precision Rifle) is the 7.62 x 51 mm, 20-inch barrel variation of the Belgian-manufactured weapon.

The SCARs were procured under a €100 million ($112 million) contract with a conglomerate of FN Herstal, OIP Sensor Systems, Telefunken-Racoms for optoelectronics and MEN for ammunition.

The procurement includes infrared and light intensification modules for night and low-light shooting, as well as precision ammunition.

Highly modular, the SCAR was designed for U.S. Special Operations Command and has already seen use by the militaries of more than two dozen countries, including Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Spain, Turkey, India and South Korea. Portugal opted earlier this year to replace its HK G3s with the SCAR in a €43 million ($47 million) contract.

France’s procurements are in addition to ongoing upgrades of helmets and vests fielded by the armed forces.

The military is expected to receive 12,000 HK 416F rifles in 2020 as part of a phase-out of the FAMAS, which has been in service since the 1970s.

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