ROME ― Italian gun-maker Beretta is eyeing a new technology transfer deal with Argentina after concluding a similar deal with Qatar, claiming handing over technology to allow international customers to build their own guns is the future.

The firm is looking at transferring technology to Argentinian state manufacturer Fabricaciones Militares for the production of handguns and assault rifles, said Carlo Ferlito, vice president of Beretta Defense Technologies.

“This will happen increasingly — it is key to penetrating markets,” he said. “All customers want control of supply.”

Beretta is now looking at future deals to transfer technology to international clients in Africa and Asia, he said.

In March, Beretta signed with Qatar to create a joint venture based there with the country’s Ministry of Defence to produce its ARX160 and ARX200 assault rifles, as well as its 92A1 pistol for Qatar government use.

Under the deal, Beretta will hold a minority stake in the joint venture, which will receive technology transfer from Beretta Holding Group and will build a manufacturing facility in Doha.

Ferlito did not reveal the order that was involved in the deal.

“The first transfer of technology is complete, and Qatar will have total independence in six years,” he said.

The firm has previously struck a deal for partial technology transfer with Egypt for the local production of its Px4 pistol.

Turning to the U.S. market, Ferlito said the firm was viewing pending competitions.

“Everyone talks about the next-generation squad assault weapon, and we are looking into the program,” he said. “We have ideas about what we would offer. It will be challenging in terms of lethality, recoil reduction and weight.”

Ferlito praised Beretta’s M9 pistol, which was in service with the U.S. Army for three decades before being replaced last year by the Sig Sauer XM17 Modular Handgun System.

“There has been a lot of confusion about the M9,” he said. “It was criticized for its ammunition, not the gun itself. We proved that to the customer, and we are still delivering to the U.S. Army on the previous contracts, and we are passing tests showing it is incredibly reliable.”

Ferlito said the M9 era was not over. “It has [a] lot to say, and the latest modifications make it very interesting for a lot of armies around the world. Having said that, this is the year of polymer, and the customer wants polymer,” he said.

“The U.S. chose the cheapest option, not the best performing option, because they chose to stop the tests before their completion because of the offer they received,” he said.

Turning back to the next-generation squad assault weapon, he added: “I hope they will stick to requirement and not turn to the cheapest offer as they did with the Modular Handgun System.”

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

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