The Taiwanese military have been developing a modern assault rifle since 2008. Four years ago they unveiled their first prototype, named the Type XT97. The latest prototype has just been unveiled and we were lucky enough to have been sent detailed photos of the new rifle. It bears a superficial resemblance to the original prototype but looking closely a lot has changed both externally and internally. The new prototype is a lot more polished and looks production ready.
The upper receiver is a one piece aluminum extrusion. The lower will be polymer but the prototype lower is metal.
The the stock folds and has an adjustable cheek rest. The stock has holes to hold the rifle’s takedown pins during field stripping, like some of the H&K rifles. In fact, the takedown pins themselves look H&K inspired.
The bolt head is based on the AK design, rather than the Stoner design featured in so many of the new assault and semi-automatic rifles on the market. It has a short stroke gas system similar to the FN SCAR. The charging handle is ambidextrous and can be locked forward so that it does not reciprocate when the action cycles. The gas system is not adjustable.
The compensator / flash hider is designed for use with a quick detach suppressor. Multiple barrel lengths were on display.
This rifle looks very promising. It merges many of the features from the AR-15, AK, SCAR and Bushmaster ACR. The current Taiwanese service rifle, the T91, based on the AR-15 and AR-18 designs, has only been in service for a decade so this rifle is probably not intended to replace it. I suspect this rifle will be issued to Special Forces, vehicle crews, airborne and mechanized infantry who require a more compact rifle or a rifle that has more customization options.
Many thanks to Sam Cheng for the photos and information.