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Out With the Uzi, In With the New

The IDF has decided to discontinue its usage of the Israeli-made Uzi submachine gun, calling it antiquated.
First Publish: 12/18/2003, 7:23 PM

The Uzi will be replaced with more sophisticated electronics-outfitted weaponry, an IDF spokesman said Wednesday.

The simply constructed fifty-year-old weapon was replaced as the weapon of choice for IDF combat units twenty years ago but continued to be used by some elite units and soldiers carrying heavy gear who needed a light weapon for self-defense.

“We are no longer training soldiers on the Uzi," said army spokesman Capt. Jacob Dallal. "Basically, it's antiquated," he said of the 9-millimeter weapon, associated with the IDF’s legendary reputation.

Israel Military Industries has produced more than 1.5 million Uzis and will continue manufacturing the weapon, which has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from sales worldwide, including sales to the United States, Latin America, and Africa. The Uzi will continue to be produced and exported.

In Israel the smaller micro-Uzis are still popular with security guards who favor maneuverability over accuracy. Many private security companies use the original, larger model because it is inexpensive. The Uzi is used widely by many of the world's police forces and security services. The gun is still used by the U.S. Secret Service and by some Israeli Special Forces due to its ability to withstand water and mud.

Through its thirty years of use in the Israeli military, soldiers appreciated it for its sturdiness and ease of operation, but complained about it’s accuracy being limited to a range of only 50 yards along with the disturbing tendency to go off by itself if dropped or struck.

Uzis were phased out of combat units in the early 1980s and replaced with standard and short versions of the American-made M-16 assault rifle, which can accurately hit a target at 1,000 yards.

Aside from its practical significance, the Uzi had been a source of pride in Israel – it was developed as Israel fought its War of Independence in 1948. "It was the first Israeli weapon after 2,000 years of exile," said one Israeli arms expert.

The gun’s inventor, Uzi Gal, died at age 79 in September of last year. As a child, Gal developed a bow that could automatically fire arrows, and later he produced weapons in a secret workshop for the Jewish pre-state underground. When the War of Independence broke out in 1948, he was asked to develop a submachine gun for Israel's army, which faced weapons embargoes and possessed very limited funds.

In 1954 the Uzi was issued to soldiers in the IDF and two years later it was used successfully in the Sinai campaign against Egypt.

Several variations were produced: The long-barreled Uzi Carbine, the pocket-sized Micro-Uzi, and the 3.6-pound Uzi Pistol. China and several Eastern European countries soon began producing knock-offs of the Uzi.

Israel has recently developed a new gun called the Tavor, a compact assault rifle to be issued to soldiers starting in January. The rifle comes in three designs: a basic assault rifle, a sharp-shooting model, and a shorter version for commandos and paratroopers that is useful in urban warfare. Like the Uzi, the Tavor is small enough to be useful in street combat, but it can also be outfitted with high-tech electronics, such as sights that can provide real-time data on targets a soldier might not be able to see with his own eyes.

A gun that is able to shoot around corners was tested by the IDF and displayed to the press at the Shoham firing range near Tel Aviv last week. The ‘Corner Shot’ allows for the firing of a bullet without exposing even the hand of the shooter to possible return fire.

"This system was put on the market three months ago and we have already sold it to 15 countries," said Amos Golan, a retired lieutenant colonel who served in Israeli anti-terror units and invented the Corner Shot.

Golan, who is also the CEO of Corner Shot stated that the device costs between three and five thousand dollars and has been sold to the American, Russian, and several European armies. "I believe that the Corner Shot weapon system can be extremely beneficial in the global war on terror," Golan said. "It protects soldiers' lives and increases their chances of survival, while drastically improving their ability to gather information and transmit the combat scenario as well as pinpoint and engage targets out of their line of sight."

The IDF, which carries out daily house-to-house searches in its battle against PA terrorist groups, is said to be considering the adoption of the Corner Shot.