The battlefield assault rifle AG3, a Norwegian copy of the Heckler & Kock G3, was the weapon used to kill a policeman in an infamous 2004 heist on an armoured car company that shocked a nation for its ruthlessness. The army now admits 1,265 such rifles have vanished.
“One weapon gone missing is one too many,” armed forces spokesman Capt. Eivind Byre told broadcaster NRK.
He said many of the weapons appear to be stolen, while others go missing on exercises or are lost during fires in the homes of ex-servicemen authorized to still have them.
“I won’t speculate, but we cannot rule out that as many as half are lost to theft,” said Byre. He admitted the army lacked good statistical oversight of the problem, although a “loss registry” for the weapons notes 11 rifles missing so far this year.
Of those, seven were reported stolen from the homes of former servicemen, three were declared lost in fires and one has been recovered.
The German-Spanish designed G3, from which the Norwegian copy derives, is a 7.62 mm assault rifle developed for the Cold War European battlefield. The G3 design owes much to its Second World War predecessor, the German Army’s StG 45M.
The Norwegian army and home guard, a sort of national militia, have just carried out a national inventory of weapons. The high count of lost weapons means those servicing the weapons might now have to service the entire, centrally stored stockpile: over 250,000 of the rifle type were produced for the Norwegian Armed Forces between 1967 and 1974.