The Ministry of Defence is upgrading the British Army’s standard combat rifle.
Defence Minister Guto Bebb announced the SA80 A2 handheld assault weapon will be upgraded into the A3 model so that the weapon can remain in service until at least 2025.
The project will cost an initial £5.4 million and will be carried out by Heckler and Koch.
Defence Minister Guto Bebb said:
“This multi-million-pound upgrade will give our Army a lighter, more hardwearing, better-camouflaged combat rifle so our soldiers can perform on the frontline of some of the most dangerous locations across the world.”
The changes to the rifle include:
- More durable hardwearing coating: in a “Flat Dark Earth” colour, it will offer better camouflage in a range of environments.
- Lighter and easier to handle: the A3 is 100g lighter than the A2 and has a more streamlined foregrip.
- New light sights: the A3 has a bracket to secure new innovative low light sights which can clip on or in front of the day sight without the need to remove it. These sights are smaller, lighter and require fewer batteries whilst operating just as effectively in low light/night conditions.
Director Land Equipment at the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, Major General Colin McClean said:
“The SA80 is a battle proven weapon used by the UK Armed Forces on operations all over the world.
“The upgrade will build upon the rifle’s state-of-the-art features enhancing accuracy and consistency.”
The MLI project will see 5,000 weapons upgraded initially, and the fielding of the first tranche began in February.