Beretta Dominates Turkmen Armed Forces Inventory

    Select-fire 5.56x45mm NATO Beretta ARX-160 rifles have been adopted en masse by the Turkmen armed forces, most recently seen in the media through the 26th anniversary of the country’s Independence Day parade held in the capital of Ashgabat. Replacing previous AKM and AK74 Kalashnikov patterned designs that Turkmen soldiers had been armed with since the days of the Soviet Union when it was a Soviet Socialist Republic until the early 1990s. From what we can gather at the military parade, it appears that the entire military has been equipped with the ARX160, and not just the land component or the infantry. The ARX160 acquisition program began sometime after 2011, with an initial sighting of the rifle among a Turkmen platoon in the 2014 Independence Day parade. Along with the ARX160 is what appears to be a smaller purchase of the IWI select-fire 5.56x45mm NATO Tavor TAR with Integral Meprolight reflex sight and what appears to be an image magnifier co-witnessed with the reflex sight. The IWI connection appears to roll over with handguns, with what appear to be Jericho pistols.

    This image from a 2014 parade.

    From a description of the acquisition on 21st Century Arms Race-

    Turkmenistan’s military has been switching to imported firearms in recent years but during a parade to mark its independence day last week soldiers were carrying the ARX-160. The rifle from Beretta Defense Technologies is an ambidextrous firearm chambered for NATO compliant ammunition.

    The adoption of imported assault rifles seems to have taken place from 2011 until 2015. Before that the Turkmen armed forces, like its neighbors, was equipped with Kalashnikovs. One reason Turkmenistan could have chosen a new standard rifle for its military, whose total strength is below 30,000 personnel, is the absence of local small arms production.

    Beretta has been making inroads into the Central Asian region for some time now, with the adoption of the 7.62x39mm variant by Kazhk special operations forces in 2014.


    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

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