T65 (Type 65)
Taiwanese familiarity with the American AR-18 automatic rifle helped to produce the Type 65 of 1976.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
In an attempt to stock its national armory with an indigenous design, Taiwanese engineers developed the T65 (Type 65), an automatic assault rifle based on the American Armalite series with several deviations to suit local military requirements. The T65 went on to serve as the standard-issue service rifle for the Taiwanese Army and Marines from 1976 until 1997 when it was officially superseded by the "T86" line. Operators of the T65 beyond Taiwan included El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jordan, Libya, Liberia, Panama and Paraguay. Design of the T65 was attributed to Combined Logistics Command (Taiwanese Hsing Arsenal) with production handled by the 205th Armory of Combined Service Forces.
Outwardly, the T65 proved a highly conventional automatic rifle, being of gas-operation with a rotating bolt function and firing the world-accepted 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge from a 30-round (standard) curved detachable box magazine. Externally, the design certainly showcased a resemblance to the American Armalite/M-16 model types. Key differences lay in a new ergonomic formed shoulder stock, revised iron sights (positioned fore and aft) and a lengthened perforated hand guard over the gas cylinder/barrel assembly. The T65 also did not feature the iconic carrying-handle of the M16 (though prototypes were seen with such). Otherwise, the system retained the same receiver with integrated pistol grip and magazine well as the Armalite/M16 family and charging was through the same T-shaped handle at the rear of the upper receiver. The lack of the carrying handle allowed for various optics to be installed while sling loops situated under the shoulder stock and under the barrel allowed for a shoulder strap to be used. The gas cylinder was positioned over the barrel assembly as in the M16 and the feed assembly could accept STANAG-type magazines beyond the aforementioned 30-round count. Overall weight was 3.31 kilograms unloaded with a running length of 990mm and a barrel assembly measuring 508mm long. Rate-of-fire was listed at 700 to 800rpm. An optional bipod could be fitted for the squad support / light machine gun role and later production models instituted a three-round burst facility similar to that of the M16. Overall, there were four positions - safety, single-shot, burst and full-automatic.
The T65 was eventually modernized with improved production processes through the "T65K2" (Type 65K2) endeavor and this, itself, spawned the "T65K3" (Type 65K3) shortened carbine form for specialist troops.
T65 rifles saw combat actions in the Liberian Civil War (1989-1996), the Iraq War (2003-2011), the Haitian Civil War and, most recently, in the Libyan Civil War of 2011.
Despite its "Type 65" designation, which would assume a 1965 service entry year, the rifle's formal adoption into service was in 1976 - the "65" designator stemming from the "Year 65" of the Republic of China, which fell in 1975. Stocks of T65 rifles are still being used worldwide as of this writing (2013).