The NTW-20 is a South African anti-materiel rifle or large-caliber sniper rifle, developed by Denel’s Mechem division in the 1990s. The weapon was designed by Tony Neophytou , and intended for deployment against a wide variety of targets, including parked aircraft, telecommunication masts, power lines, missile sites, radar installations, refineries, satellite dishes, gun emplacements, bunkers and personnel, using a range of specialized projectiles. As with other weapons of this type, it can also be used for counter sniping and ordnance disposal .
Development of the system began in August 1995 under the Aerotek name and a working prototype was ready for testing four and a half months later. This rapid progress was made possible by Neophytou’s extensive expertise in the field of recoil reduction systems, having worked on helicopter turrets in the past. In order to further reduce the amount of research and development, the project recycled the barrel, bolt and barrel extension of the existing Vektor GA1 automatic cannon The rifle was accepted into service with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1998.
Denel was also contracted to supply various weapon systems for the Indian Armed Forces, including Anti-material rifles and Self-propelled howitzers. However, following allegations that it had paid kickbacks to secure a deal for anti-material rifles, Denel was black-listed by the government. Subsequently, the Ordnance Factory Tiruchirapalli (OFT), in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), began developing an indigenous antimaterial rifle called Vidhwansak, which borrowed heavily from the Denel NTW-20. The development of Vidhwansak was completed in November 2005.
The NTW 20/14.5 is one of the few firearms in existence that allow the changing of the caliber without completely disassembling and reworking the weapon. Switching between the two calibers of the NTW (20mm and 14.5mm) requires changing the bolt, barrel, sighting gear and magazine. (A third variant, the NTW 20×110 has also been developed, but is not designed for barrel caliber switching.) Caliber switching the NTW 20/14.5 can be accomplished simply in the field without specialized tools. The magazine protrudes from the left side of the receiver. The NTW can be disassembled and packed into two backpacks for carriage. A muzzle brake is fitted on the end of the barrel which absorbs an estimated 50%-60% of recoil. This is further supplemented by a buffered slide in the receiver.