Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF), the state owned small arms, light weapons, and ammunition manufacturer has entered into negotiations and a Letter of Understanding to locally produce the CZ 807 rifle, in 7.62x39mm for a Pakistani Army contract, understandably replacing POF’s currently produced under license G3s and Type 56s. This is resulting from a year long process the Pakistani Army has undergone to fielding a new infantry rifle. Original contenders were Zastava, FN Herstal, Beretta, and CZ, among others. From what we see so far, the CZ 807 has been apparently chosen, with the results from the recent International Defense Exhibition & Seminar Exposition 2016 (IDEAS Expo 2016) being held in Karachi.
From Radio Pakistan–
CeskaZbrojovka, Czech Republic and Pakistan Ordnance Factories declared that they will intensively negotiate a delivery of complete technology for the production of small arms to Pakistan Ordnance Factories, POF. Mutual interest refers to gradual launching of production in Pakistan, ranging from light assembly to maximum localization of production. Within this cooperation, transfer of technology as well as technical support including technical training of the personnel for Pakistan Ordnance Factories is expected.
Manufacturing the rifle locally makes much more sense for Pakistan in the long run. However, similar to their G3s and Type 56s, this will commit the government to the design because it will be a financial burden to change rifles and manufacturing if the CZ 806 should not turn out well as hoped. More surprising than the choice of rifle, is the choice of caliber, in 7.62x39mm. Many NATO member origin rifles have 7.62x39mm as an option, but this is clearly lead on by a need within Special Operations communities to have the ability of converting or using a 7.62x39mm rifle to utilize battlefield pick ups of ammunition in the field. For Pakistan this is also a cost cutting initiative, as 7.62x39mm is already produced by POF for the Army’s Type 56 license produced copies. Interestingly, Pakistan is almost skipping the 5.56x45mm/5.45x39mm adoption by a number of modern militaries in the past several decades, and instead hasn’t left the intermediate cartridge usage. One could see this as very wise, if militaries move towards a .300 BLK or similarly heavier 5.56x45mm cartridge in the future.
Pakistan selecting the CZ-806 BREN 2 would not be surprising. Among the options studied, the BREN was, presumably, among the more affordable options (at least in comparison to the FN SCAR), especially if the intention was to issue the rifle to the entirety of the Pakistan Army’s regular infantry.
However, considering that it was the 7.62x39mm version that was evaluated, it is unclear if the BREN was being examined in relation to the 7.62x51mm G-3, for which the FN SCAR-H and Beretta ARX-200 were tagged as leading next-generation candidates. But if POF is seeking a production contract with CZ, it is possible that the Army has opted to shift the mainstay of its future rifle distribution to 7.62x39mm The fact that POF recently opened a production site for 7.62x39mm rounds suggests that 7.62x39mm will play a central role in the Army’s infantry doctrine. In this scenario, a 7.62x51mm rifle such as the SCAR could still be sought, but as a smaller off-the-shelf purchase (without a production element at POF).