The iconic AK-47 assault rifle could soon be manufactured in the United States.
U.S. Special Operations Command has issued bids seeking companies that would be interested in making the rifle — a staple of both allies and insurgents Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq — and other Russian-designed weapons in this country.
The bids were released last month by the command, which is based at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, The Tampa Bay Times reports.
The deadline was Friday.
"A U.S.-based source would be a good use of taxpayer funds," command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matt Allen told the Times, "while also delivering the weapons our partners not only need to fight extremists, but also the ones they know how to use, know how to fix and have the supplies in their regions to maintain."
The bids also seek specifications for making other weapons: sniper rifles like the Dragunov, light machine guns like the PKM, and heavy machine guns like the DShK and the KPV.
The command trains and equips commandos in the U.S.-led war on terror. It also provides weapons to allies as directed by headquarters commands like U.S. Central Command, which also is based at MacDill.
Officials declined to say which allies might get AK-47s from the United States, according to the report.
Scott Neil, a retired Green Beret master sergeant, however, told the Times that foreign-made versions of the weapons have been sent to such U.S. allies as Iraqi and Afghan security forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and Syrian Kurdish and Arab partners.
"They are much more familiar with these weapons," Neil said.
Local gun makers questioned whether U.S. manufacturers could compete effectively with foreign companies, which make the weapons cheaply.
Allen told the Times that the command will only know about price and other issues once the bids have been received.
The command buys some of the weapons from contractors using approved sources around the world, according to the report.
"This will help us explore what capacity and capability there is within the U.S. industrial base," Allen told the newspaper. "After that, we will better understand what could be provided, which missions they may be appropriate to support and to which approved partners they could be beneficial."
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