After design work began in the early 1990s, a new Czech automatic assault rifle - showcasing the distinct lines of the famous Soviet Kalashnikov AK-47 - was unveiled by Ceska Zrbojovka in 1993 with the intention that it become the standard-issue service rifle for the Czechoslovakian Army (set to replace the outgoing vz. 58 series). Initially a 5.45mm design known as the "Lada", the weapon was remarketed as the "CZ2000" in 1995 and redesigned to accept the 5.56x45mm NATO-standard round with hopes for the Czech Republic's induction into NATO itself. The CZ2000 would be branched out into a family of similar automatic weapons that promoted commonality of parts and ammunition, making the selection of the CZ2000 for formal Czech Army service an economical one to some extent. The Ceska Zbrojovka concern was founded in 1936 in Czechoslovakia prior to World War 2. From then on, it was under the rule of Warsaw Pact influence from 1955 through 1991. Czechoslovakia was then divided (peacefully) in January of 1993 to become the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic officially became a member of NATO on March 12th, 1999 along with Hungary and Poland.
Despite its obvious external appearance to famous Soviet assault rifle, the CZ2000 was of wholly Czech engineering. The body of the gun was completed with stamped steel construction for a robust end-product designed to withstand the rigors of battlefield abuse. As a gas-operated weapon, the CZ2000 retained the Kalashnikov-style over-barrel gas cylinder used in the action. The receiver did lack the traditionally Kalashnikov large cocking lever and instead went with one of minimal proportion (conventionally mounted along the right side of the body). The ejection port was also set to the right side. The pistol grip was slightly angled and aft of the ring-guarded curved trigger. The magazine well was set ahead of the trigger system and fed with 30-round plastic-bodied (polymer) detachable box magazines. The CZ2000 sported a wire-frame skeletal stock that could fold over the right side of the receiver for a more compact design. Adjustable iron sights were standard as was a self-luminous tritium dot-aimer for improved accuracy in low light. Optics were, of course, optional allowing specialized use of the weapon for when in the hands of marksmen and special forces.
The CZ2000 was eventually designed in three major forms - a dedicated assault rifle, a carbine and a light machine gun. The differences between the three were minimal save for the length of the forward components (especially the barrels). The carbine form featured a shortened forend with an equally shortened barrel (capped by a conical muzzle compensator) while the light machine gun model was finished with a long barrel sporting a folding bipod hinged at the muzzle. This version was also designed to accept a 75-round drum-type magazine while all were designed to accept the universal M16-style STANAG detachable box magazine. The assault rifle could be fitted with an underslung, single-shot grenade launcher to help expand the reach of the standard infantryman. The carbine form, in addition to its shorter length, weighed in at just 5.7lbs. The assault rifle was comparatively manageable at 6.6lbs while the light machine gun grossed at 9lbs.
Despite its promising nature, it appears that the CZ2000 family was never accepted into Czech Army service, instead existing only in described "prototype" forms. As of this writing, it is doubtful that the CZ2000 will ever see the light of day for the "CZ2000" designation actually implied a year 2000 introduction that never was. Today's Czech Army is issued various indigenous and foreign weapons including the American M4 carbine, the indigenous CZ 805 Bren A1 (replacing the vz. 58) assault rifle and the American M60 general purpose machine gun as well as the Skorpion vz. 61, the PDW Skorpion EVO III and Uk vz. 59 submachine guns. The Uk vz. 59 general purpose machine gun is also in circulation.