The Mexican assault rifle: Xiuhcóatl FX-05
The Mexican assault rifle Xiuhcóatl FX-05, Fire Serpent in the Náhuatl language is the first Mexican designed assault weapon. This rifle was designed by the Directorate of Military Industry (DGIM) under the direction of Brigadier General José Antonio Iztiga Landeros (Military ID no: 6143185) according to a response issued under the Mexican law of governmental transparency (Record no: 0000700109506). According to the governmental information release, 65 military engineers participated in the design of the weapon. The assault rifle is one hundred percent of Mexican design. It was unveiled publically during the military parade on September 16, 2006.
The rifle is currently used by the Mexican Special Forces, the elite Paratroopers and GAFE, the Mexican Special Airmobile Group. It is anticipated that the Xiuhcóatl FX-05 will eventually replace the Heckler and Koch (HK) G-3, made in Mexico under license, currently in use by the Mexican military. (1)
According to a SEDENA open records release (Record no: 0000700017007) there have been 5,000 FX-05 carbines (short barrel) and another 5,000 long barrel rifles under construction as of February 13, 2007
The assault rifle, designed according to Mexican requirements, took into account the Mexican arm reach of the typical Mexican soldier. The weapon includes a cold-forged barrel, folding stock and uses an interchangeable magazine with 30 rounds each. The ammunition is the 5.56x45mm NATO round. It has a rate of fire of 750 rounds per minute. It is constructed of a carbon-fiber polymer with a corrosion resistant steel action. The rifle comes in dark-green and desert bronze.
Since 2006, there is a pending patent (PA/A/2006/007961) application before the Mexican Patent authority. According to SEDENA, the weapon cost $91,304,796.73 pesos to design, raw materials, machinery and necessary infrastructure according to another public releases document dated January 31, 2007. (Record no: 0000700010707)
On January 7, 2007, through another release of public information (Record no: 0000700109506) the Mexican government explained that it undertook the design of the weapon in order to “reduce the costs associated in the fabrication of weapons for the military, increase the firepower of the military and give the soldier tactical superiority”. The open records release also noted that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO had adopted, as its second official round, the 5.56x45mm round, the same used by the Mexican assault rifle.
A short time after the Mexican military deployed its new weapon on the 16th of September, 2006, the German company Heckler and Koch (HK) declared that the Mexican weapon was a pirated copy of the company’ G36. According to the periodical, “La Jornada” this accusation resulted in the dismissal of the director of military industry directorate, General Alfredo Oropeza Garnica. After a thorough inspection by the German company, Heckler and Koch acknowledged that the Mexican assault rifle was not a pirated copy. (1) (2) SEDENA, through a public information release (Record no: 0000700109506) declared that there are “no documents” indicating any pending legal action against General Juan Alfredo Oropeza Garnica.
Limited Mexican government release of information because of national defense
According to another governmental transparency information release (Record no: 0000700067607) the release of pictures of the rifle, in all of its types, is restricted because of national security. According to SEDENA, images of the weapon are “classified as reserved because their release compromises national security because the weapon’s use is exclusive to the Mexican military”.
For that reason, although there are numerous unofficial images on the Internet, there are no official pictures of the weapon. The Mexican restriction of official images is based on avoiding that cartel members confuse civilians with the use of disguised weapons in hopes of making it seem that the Mexican military is complicit in their activities. In a firefight between cartel hit men and Mexican soldiers it is important to be able to distinguish between federal security forces and the criminals. Protecting the integrity of the Mexican weapon helps in the war against the drug mafias. For the reason it is necessary to accept the official position of the government in restricting the release of official specifications for the weapon.
1. Numerous Open Records Requests submitted to the Mexican Government
2. La Jornada, Thursday, May 17, 2007; Opinión: El regreso de la xiuhcóatl por Pedro Miguel
3. c/net News, March 13, 2007; The case of the copycat fire serpent by Mark Rutherford