The Negev is an Israeli light machine gun designed by Israel Weapon Industries (formerly known as Israel Military Industries) which uses universal NATO ammunition to replace the Galil LMG which suffered from barrel overheat in sustained fire.
The IWI Negev light machine guns (generally translated as "Negev", the name of a region in southern Palestine) is the IDF's multi-standard light machine guns of the armed forces, including all of the regular troops and special forces.
In the early 1990s, Negev light machine guns was developed according to the IDF mission requirements, it was designed to replace a variety of IDF's weapon platforms - light machine gun that can be used by foot soldiers, vehicles, aircraft and general purpose machine gun, instead of the FN MAG58 used by the IDF. Despite the good performance as a general purpose machine gun, the MAG58 is not a very good personal weapon, as the weapon itself is not only heavy, but also used the heavy 7.62mm NATO, therefore limiting the amount of ammunition that can be carried, so the IDF need to find a new light machine gun for infantry units to enhance the suppressive fire.
When the IDF intends to adopt a new light machine guns, the FN Minimi machine gun is a competitor for the new Negev machine gun, which has a similar performance, and in the early 1990s, the IDF has already been equipped with a small number of Minimi. In contrast, Negev has not completed its development and testing process, and Minimi has been tested in combat. However, the Minimi reputation in the IDF is not very good due to bad maintenance. In addition, the IWI put pressure on the politicians, demanding "to support domestic products" for the Israel Defense Forces and therefore the IDF finally decided to purchase the domestic Negev which is more expensive than Minimi, and signed a procurement contract with the IWI to continue to develop the Negev machine gun.
The Negev machine gun was finished in 1995 and submitted to IDF conducted field trials in 1996. In 1997, Negev became a new standard weapons and the troops were began to be equipped with it. Compared with the heavy Galil assault rifle, Negev has better luck, partly because the performance is very similar with the Minimi, high accuracy and light weight. Moreover, in the desert environment, the IDF found the Negev to be more reliable than the Minimi; in addition Negev folding stock is also a big advantage.
- Negev Commando
Compact version of the standard Negev; lighter, with shorter barrel and overall length. It has been renamed as the Negev Special Force (Negev SF), also known as the "Assault Negev".
- Negev NG7
Chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO to improve range and penetration.