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Calls mount for G36 assault rifle replacement

A German politician has said a replacement is needed for the highly criticized G36 assault rifle used by the Bundeswehr. The guns are inaccurate in hot temperatures.

German parliamentary Defense Committee Chairman Hans-Peter Bartels said the highly criticized G36 firearms used by the German military need to be replaced.

"The Bundeswehr needs to find a replacement for the G36, as it is operationally limiting," the SPD politician said in an interview published Sunday by German newspaper "Bild am Sonntag."

Bartels' comments come a day after German defense manufacturing company Heckler & Koch, makers of the controversial G36 assault rifle, said the machine gun was dependable and "100 percent efficient." The company's statement followed findings that the guns were ineffective in hot temperatures.

The G36's capabilities came under scrutiny after a study commissioned by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen last year claimed "the weapons system did not fulfill the requirements."

The German army claimed in the study that the G36's precision was lower than had been previously estimated.

The weapon's capacity to hit targets fell to 30 percent when the surrounding temperature reached 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) or when the weapon became hot through constant use, the report said.

The reason for the gun's poor precision was its "complete system," the research revealed.

Greens party defense spokesperson Tobias Lindner said there could be consequences if the firearms continued to be used.

"The ministry has to repair the G36 quickly, or find a replacement," Lindner told Bild am Sonntag.

A quick solution is unlikely, however, as a complete overhaul of the 176,000 rifles in use across the Bundeswehr could take up to 10 years.

Manufacturer defends G36

Heckler & Koch chief Andreas Heeschen defended his company's weapons following the review by the German army.

"It cannot be that one discovers after 20 years that the weapon is useless," Heeschen told the German weekly "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" (FAS) on Sunday.

The company was "naturally" ready to discuss changes in the machine gun, Heckler & Koch's Heeschen insisted, adding that the soldier was "of sole importance" to his organization.

However, one needed to take into account that general conditions for fielding the weapon had changed over the past years.

"If a single person buys a convertible, uses it for many years and then gets married and has four children, he cannot just complain to his manufacturer and say: the car is rubbish and we don't fit into it."

The CEO claimed that his company did not know exactly why the machine gun was showing problems, since the report hadn't been formally released as yet. Heeschen would also not shy away from going to court, if his company "determined that the study was not carried out according to rules."

Heeschen maintained that the G36 was in perfect condition, adding that the truth would "come to light."

jlw/sms (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)

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