UPDATE 6.2005: The Bundeswehr has given the MG43 the new designation MG4.
These are some of the only photographs emerging in reference to the new HK MG43 belt fed 5.56mm x 45 machine gun. Heckler & Koch unveiled the new machine gun at the Defense Systems and Equipment International Convention in London, September 11-14, 2001.
Photos two, three and four are from the June, 2002 edition of Small Arms Review, reprinted here courtesy of Dan Shea, author and photographer of their article on the MG43. More photos to come soon!
The new gun is reportedly still in the early testing stages and is gas operated with a rotary bolt. Also among the features are safe/full auto only, reminiscent of the M249 SAW and other adopted designs that do not feature select fire capability. The gun has quick change barrels and a "very strong" belt feeding system. The use of gas operation and rotary bolt seems to indicate that the MG43 is further progression of the G36 series, though this gun is not touted as a member of the G36 family.
The brochure states that the gun has a folding buttstock and a cyclic rate of 750 rpm. It does not have a semi auto selector position, which is a first for HK.
Sand and extreme conditions test have already been undertaken at the Yuma proving ground in Arizona, after which a barrel handguard is to be finalized. The gun is also reportedly to be developed in 7.62mm x 51 NATO as well. It is not yet known how the designation MG43 came to be. More information to come as it becomes available. Count on HKPRO for your leading edge inside the world of HK!