During the recent (April 4-7, 2017) LAAD Defence & Security exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, IMBEL – Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil showed the latest development examples of its 7.62x51mm IA2 carbine and rifle prototypes which are expected to soon join the similarly-designated 5.56x45mm variants currently in full production at the company’s Fábrica de Itajubá (Itajubá Factory) facilities in Minas Gerais State.
When the IA2 program got a real start around 2009-2010, emphasis was on the development of the 5.56x45mm model, since that’s what the Brazilian Army and police forces were expected to acquire in large numbers, what eventually happened. However, a 7.62x51mm-chambered gun somewhat based on the FAL (for long time, license-produced by IMBEL) was also developed side-by-side, though in a secondary position in the priorities list. Anyway, prototype examples of both types were already being demonstrated at selected Brazilian Army units in December, 2010.
The semi-auto carbine version, primarily aimed at the LE market, is currently undergoing an official certification test program at CAEx – Centro de Avaliações do Exército (Army Evaluation Center) in Rio de Janeiro. Although it has inherited the FAL tilting-block breech locking bolt, plus the firing mechanism and the very same 20-round steel magazine, everything else is derived from the 5.56x45mm model, but this includes a re-dimensioned piston gas system. Polymers, of course, are found everywhere, such as in the side-folding stock, hand guards, and the pistol grip, which clearly shows less forward inclination than that of the well-known FAL.
As far as the selective-fire IA2 rifle version is concerned, TFB was told that Brazilian Army official certification tests are scheduled to start sometime in mid-2017. The gun features the same general configuration, but is fitted with a longer (390mm) barrel, which raises overall length to 920mm (or 670mm, stock folded). Empty weight, 20-round steel magazine in place, goes up to 4.3kg.