North American Anti-Materiel Rifles with Houthi Forces in Yemen
The American-made Barrett M82A1 is semi-automatic, chambered for .50 BMG (12.7 x 99 mm) and designated the M107 in US service. The M82A1 weighs 13.6 kg, has an overall length of 1450 mm and features a 740-mm barrel. In the hands of trained marksmen, M82 series rifles are capable of engaging targets out to 1,000 m and beyond. Houthi forces are likely to possess 12.7 x 99 mm cartridges in several different loadings, including ball (full metal jacket; FMJ), armour piercing (AP) and possibly armour piercing incendiary (API) or other types. The projectiles are capable of defeating manpower and soft-skinned or lightly armoured vehicles (depending on ammunition type) at extended ranges.
Some observers have suggested that the presence of the M82A1 in Yemen could be explained through battlefield capture from Gulf coalition members who are known to employ them, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. However, the M82A1 is not new in Yemen, with documents obtained through FOIA requests indicating the supply of military materiel from the United States to Yemen in 2012, which included a number of M82A1 rifles. With significant materiel known to have been captured by Houthi fighters from Yemeni government forces and the defection of a substantial number of Yemeni armed forces personnel, these rifles are perhaps more likely to have undergone a similar transition.
Another anti-materiel rifle, also chambered for .50 BMG, has been sighted in service with Houthi forces. The rifle, pictured, has been identified by ARES as an LRT-3 model “sniper weapon system” from PGW Defence Technologies Inc. Images of this weapon were widely posted to social media, and reports indicate it was seized by Houthi forces on June 11, 2015, after clashes with Saudi border guards. The bolt-action LRT-3, fitted with a suppressor, was displayed alongside other captured small arms, including a number of G36 series rifles likely to have been produced in Saudi Arabia under license from German manufacturer Heckler & Koch. Also pictured is a G3A3-type rifle, also likely to have been produced under license in Saudi Arabia, and another bolt-action sniper rifle, most likely a PGW Timberwolf, chambered for .338 Lapua Magnum. As well as the suppressor fitted to the LRT-3, both rifles appear to feature Schmidt & Bender telescopic optics, likely supplied by the rifles’ manufacturers. It’s worth noting that another bolt-action rifle thought to be a PGW Timberwolf was among small arms taken by Houthi forces from Saudi troops in October 2015.
PGW Defence Technologies Inc. is a precision rifle company located in Winnipeg, Canada. Among other clients listed on their website are the Royal Saudi Land Forces. Precision sniper rifles are manufactured to a high standard, often in small batches and by smaller manufacturers. It is not uncommon for non-NATO states, including Saudi Arabia, to purchase precision firearms from smaller western companies. These rifles, like all small arms, can be subject to transfers beyond the initial intended user; such was the case with an Accuracy International Arctic Warfare (AW) sniper rifle documented by ARES in the hands of Syrian government special operations forces (SOF) in September 2015.
LRT-3 and M82A1 technical specifications taken from their official product sheets and operating manuals. Thanks to Joseph Trevithick for sharing records obtained through FOIA requests. PGW Defence Technologies Inc. was contacted for comment but has not replied at the time of publishing.
This article is reproduced courtesy of Armament Research Services (ARES). See www.armamentresearch.com for further original content.