FAMAS stands for Fusil d'Assaut de la Manufacture d'Armes de St-Etienne (Assault Rifle by St-Etienne Arms Factory - a member of the French govt. owned GIAT Industries). Development of this rifle began in 1967, under the leadership of Paul Tellie, a French arms designer. This new rifle was intended to replace the already in service MAS Mle.49/56 semi-automatic rifles, MAT-49 submachine guns and some MAC Mle.1929 light machine guns. The first FAMAS prototype had been built in 1971. The French military began to test this rifle in 1972-73, but, in the meantime, France adopted the Swiss-made SIG SG-540 5.56mm assault rifle as an intermediate solution. The FAMAS rifle was adopted by the French in 1978 and since then became a standard French Army shoulder fired small arm, known among the French soldiers as Le Clairon (the bulge). It is still used by the French army today, and was exported in small numbers to some countries like the Senegal and the United Arab Emirates.