The IDF is phasing out its American-made M-16 assault rifles and replacing them with its Israeli-made Tavor assault rifles, according to a report on Maariv’s website NRG.
The Tavor — featuring a very different design than the M-16, developed for the IDF’s needs by Israel Military Industries during the 1990s — was introduced into service with regular infantry troops in the early 2000s, and slowly integrated to increasingly larger numbers of units throughout the decade. During that period, some M-16s, designed in the Vietnam era, were altered to better meet the IDF’s needs, while others were removed from service; the M-16 increasingly became a weapon for reservists.
As the NRG report noted, there are now a large number of soldiers in the reserves who did not use the American assault rifle during their compulsory military service. To standardize the weaponry for reservists, the report said, senior infantry commanders have decided to completely phase out the M-16s in favor of the Tavor.
The move is a reversal of sorts from the time when the IDF replaced its stock of Galil rifles — the Israeli-designed weapons that were based on a derivative of the ubiquitous Russian AK-47 — with the American M-16s.