In the late 1990s, the Spanish Army followed the Bundeswehr’s lead and adopted the Heckler & Koch G36 to replace their 5.56x45mm CETME Model LC. The G36E has been in service ever since with over 70,000 used by the Spanish military and police.
In recent years some concerns have arisen about the G36’s combat performance, something we have covered extensively here at TFB. While Spain has never encountered any issues similar to those experienced by German troops in Afghanistan, they have not investigated the potential problems officially. The G36E, however, is approaching 20 years in service and may soon be in need of a mid-life refit.
At the recent FEINDEF convention in Madrid, an unexpected pairing made the first bid for the potential future upgrade programme. US-based Wilcox and Austria’s Steyr Arms showed off an upgraded G36 with a new aluminium alloy receiver replacing the original polymer and a host of other upgrades. No details on weight and cost are available at this time.
The upgraded rifle on show featured a number of upgrades, Wilcox brought their FUSION powered rail system which incorporates a number of accessories including a light, laser, and IR illuminator – all powered by a single CR123 battery, with a secondary back up. While Steyr Arms have developed new major components including a new cold hammer forged steel barrel, receiver (with ambidextrous controls), stock and a new STANAG magazine well. The upgrades aim to reduce issues with thermal stability and improving accuracy with the new alloy receiver providing more rigidity than the original polymer Heckler & Koch receivers. The display rifle featured a red dot optic with a magnifier.
Wilcox and Steyr Arms will no doubt also be looking to other countries as well as other G36 users look to upgrade their rifles.