This was the Sixth biennial meeting of SITDEF in Lima, Peru. SITDEF occurs every two years and has since the start of the show. The show has grown exponentially each time, and in 2015 there were approximately 40,000 visitors, mostly from South American countries, with official delegations from over 30 countries. More than 429 representatives of armed forces were in official attendance, with thousands more active-duty personnel as well.

SADJ is a regular at this show. The Peruvian military groups have diverse needs from high-mountain terrain to their long ocean coast; so the needs of the customers tend to draw a lot of interesting vendors and attendees.

Scaled model of the Japanese Ambassador’s residence, which had to be built and used for training to plan the attack to free the hostages.

The Japanese Embassy Hostage Crisis (Operation Chavín de Huantar)

On 17 December 1996, 14 members of the revolutionary group MRTA raided a party at the Japanese Ambassador to Peru’s residence (not the embassy) and took hundreds of diplomats, military and government officials as their hostages. They demanded freedom for some of their guerilla comrades imprisoned for criminal acts, as well as social changes and some other things. This event propelled the MRTA and their attack to the forefront of the world media. For 126 days, the MRTA held a group of very important people hostage, having released many they did not feel were “useful” to their cause early on in the crisis.

On 22 April 1997 special teams totaling 140 Peruvian Commandos executed a well-planned attack on the residence and freed the hostages. One hostage died, two commandos died, and all of the MRTA militants were killed. This event is hailed as a very successful operation by the Peruvian Special Forces and is commemorated by the display at SITDEF.

Weapons and other items captured from the MRTA guerillas were on display at SITDEF, and SADJ thought that a close look at the weapons might be enlightening. Rumor has it that the Special Forces used the brand new—at the time—FN P90 during the raid, but no evidence can be found of that.

DS Arms is well known in South American countries, attributable to their innovations on the FAL series of rifles. In this photo, two of their other specialties—a modernized RPD and DS Arms’ M4. Top: DS Arms RPD Carbine fires at 550 rpm, shown here with the 50-round Sawbag adapter. Bottom: ZM4 rifle in .300 Blackout.

As mentioned, the DS Arms line of rifles has reached prominence in South America largely due to their 7.52x51-mm FAL products. Top: 18-inch FAL with Vltor Forend, short gas system and 30-round DSA curved magazine modified from the L4 (Bren). Middle: the SA58 19-inch barrel with DSA 40 mm M203. Bottom: SPR-SASS from the trials in Desert Tiger camo.

Steyr Mannlicher’s display was fairly inclusive of their new products. The classic bullpup Steyr AUG is laying on the table to the right, while the HS .50 M1 sniper rifle is to the left, with the SSG08 in the center. The SSG08 can be obtained in .308 Winchester (7.62x51 mm), .300 Win Mag or .338 Lapua Magnum.

Steyr’s GL40 40x46 under-barrel grenade launcher, pivots to the left side, allowing any type of the 40x46-mm low-velocity grenades to be used. With an overall length of 10.6 inches, and a barrel of 7.1 inches, it is very compact and can mount on the Steyr AUG series as well as others with a rail adapter. There is also a standalone stock for firing.

NIVISIS (Night Vision Systems) shared a booth with US Ordnance and displayed their latest products. Left to right: MUM-14 with dual bridge, PVS-7, PVS-14, UTAC-32IL Thermal Long Range, TAG-32E Thermal-Extended Range.

US Ordnance is a regular at the SITDEF show, and they have had some success with the Peruvian military. Here, the M60E6 is on display in front of the M60D (enhanced). The Danish Army adopted the M60E6, and it is a very reliable 7.62x5-mm machine gun. In the background, US Ordnance’s M240D, M240 (Tank) and M240B can be seen on display.

FN Herstal is another show regular at SITDEF. Here, they have the FN Minimi 5.56 MK3 at top and the FN Minimi 7.62 MK3 on the lower shelf. Both tried and true standby machine guns.

Instalaza of Spain is well known to arms users in South America, and they had a number of innovations to show. The two updated shoulder-fired rocket systems here are the disposable 90-mm C90-CR-RB (M3) to the rear, which is the anti-tank version of the M3, with armor penetration to 400 mm and point accuracy to 350 meters; and to the front is the popular 100-mm Alcotán-100 (M2) which has a range of 600 meters for point accuracy, and when combined with the VOSUL opto-electronic system, has night vision capability and much longer range.

The FTV barrel-launched rifle grenade, shown here with the red flip-up sight and plastic belt case, comes from Instalaza as either armor-piercing (shown) or anti-personnel. These are for 5.56x45-mm rifles with the NATO standard 22-mm barrel mount system.

Hand-thrown grenades are a specialty of Instalaza. The two main products are the Alhambra, which is strictly a defensive grenade (meaning it has fragmentation), and the Alhambra D/O which is Defensive/Offensive. This is accomplished by having a grenade that is Offensive—no fragmentation—and an outer sheath that can be installed quickly to add a fragmentation band—shown to the rear right in the photo.

FN Herstal is another show regular at SITDEF. Here, they have the FN Minimi 5.56 MK3 at top and the FN Minimi 7.62 MK3 on the lower shelf. Both tried and true standby machine guns.

On family day, thousands of Peruvian families, many of them relatives of service members, attend the show. Here, a potential future soldier exhibits a wide grin as the Special Forces soldiers set him behind a CIS40; a 40x53-mm Automatic Grenade Launcher from ST Kinetics of Singapore. This AGL appears to have been adapted to the mount for a recoilless rifle.

Top AK: AKMS underfolder attributed to “Camarada Alex;” Artemo Rosque. Middle AKS-Milled receiver AK47 underfolder attributed to “Camarada Cynthia;” Herma Luz Melendez Cueva. AKMS underfolder attributed to “Camarada Arabe;” Roli Rojas Fernandez. On the bottom of the shelf are a WWII British Sten MKV 9x19-mm submachine gun, a US M1928A1 Thompson .45acp submachine gun with 50-round drum, and in the back, an RPG-7 missing its heat shields. Most of the markings on the firearms have been obliterated or painted over so it is difficult to attribute exact manufacturers and dates to these.

One of the attackers used this Uzi Submachine gun. However, looking at the markings, it can be seen that this was a semi-automatic imported into the US by Action Arms. How it got into the hands of the MRTA is unknown. The barrel was cropped, and it was converted to fully automatic.