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Actor Daniel Craig might use it in his upcoming James Bond film; it is being touted as the only dual-caliber assault rifle in the world today - and in the coming months, it will hit the international market under the name Micro-Tavor (MTAR).
Developed and manufactured by Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) - a former subsidiary of the government-owned Israel Military Industries - the MTAR is the micro version of the Tavor assault rifle jointly developed by the IDF and IMI as a replacement for the M-16.
The Tavor utilizes a bullpup design and is configured in a layout that shortens the overall length, but not at the expense of the barrel, which retains a 33-centimeter length. This configuration enables an operator to use the short weapon in urban warfare, but at the same time shoot at targets over 500 meters away thanks to the relatively long barrel.
The Tavor comes in different variations, with the CTAR, or commando version, utilized by the IDF, which purchased 15,000 units in 2002. According to foreign reports, the weapon, which has a sniper and grenade-launcher variant as well, is also in operational use by India, Portugal, Georgia, Columbia and Thailand.
In 2006, the Givati Brigade began equipping its new recruits with the Tavor as part of the IDF's policy to begin weeding out M-16s from infantry brigades. In December of that year, however, Givati commanders decided to suspend the use of the Tavor after soldiers complained of a growing number of malfunctions.
"These were problems that every product has in its early stages," said IWI Vice President for Marketing and Business Development Mark Shahar.
"These problems were located, and they were quickly fixed, making the Tavor today a better weapon."
In the coming months, Shahar said, IWI plans to begin selling the Micro-Tavor, which has dual-caliber capability - meaning that it can operate as an assault rifle like an M-16 and turn into a submachine gun with the use of a compact conversion kit - like the Uzi. Shahar said that this would be ideal for Special Forces, which use different weapons for different operations.
"This way, they won't have to switch weapons and will be able to use the MTAR for all their operations," he explained.
As for the chances that the MTAR will appear in the next James Bond movie, Shahar said he will "believe it when he sees it," but that a producer he spoke to at a recent Paris weapons expo seemed serious about the initiative.
"This is an interesting and sexy weapon, and there is no doubt that it will continue to attract a lot of attention around the world," he said.
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