The Italian Army are to transfer as many as 5,000 Beretta AR70/90 5.56x45mm Rifles to Albania by the end of 2017. Albania is one of Italy’s regional strategic allies and the donation of AR70/90s, along with two Iveco VTLM light multirole vehicles, is in an effort to aid the Albanian Army’s modernisation programme.
The Beretta AR70/90, an upgraded version of the original AR70, introduced in 1990. Chambered in 5.56 NATO, it is a gas operated, select fire rifle which weighs 4kg (8.8lb). It has a folding stock and an integral bipod. It has seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan and various UN peace keeping missions.
Albania joined NATO in 2009, but the Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) are still in the process of modernising and their infantry are largely still equipped with locally manufactured AKMs and ASH-78s (a Chinese Type 56 clone). Standardisation to M4’s initially began back in 2015, while AAF Special Forces units have been issued new Beretta ARX-160s.
The Italian Army is currently phasing out the older AR70/90, replacing it with the Beretta ARX160, adopted in 2009. The transfer of the surplus AR70/90 is being made in an effort to equip the AAF with NATO standard weapons. One of the first Albanian units to receive the Italian rifles will be the 2nd Infantry Battalion which is a motorised light infantry element currently attached to NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.