Border Wars: The Type 81 Variants of the United Wa State Army

Currently boosting a force of over 30,000 fighters, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) has always been a force of reckoning on the Burmese border with China. And although arms production among the Wa (northern Shan State) isn’t a new or hot topic (this Irrawaddy article documenting such production in 2008), there have has been very little written about exactly what is being produced and how to tell it apart. Both the armed factions of the Wa and the Kachin ethnic groups will publicly and proudly claim that their small arms are entirely produced domestically. Although both ethnic armies do have a limited assembly ability and the Kachin appear to manufacture their own mortars, the nexus behind both groups originates from neighbouring China in the form of Type 81 derivatives.

In the case of the Wa, we see this very clearly through the two variants of Type 81s that are assembled in-country. Burmese Tatmadaw spokespersons mentioned at least one location of where these assembly areas are in a press conference in 2015

The Kokang rebels were using Type 81-8 rifles which are known to be produced by the Wa army. According to the confessions of captured Chinese citizens, the Wa

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Originally posted on The Firearm Blog