Weapons and Kit

SA80 rifle models pitted against each other during live fire exercise

Different variant models of the SA-80 rifle – standard issue rifle of the British Armed Forces – have been put to the test by soldiers in live firing exercise tests.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) team, using a specially designed obstacle course, conducted a pilot study to assess the effects of the SA-80 L85A2 versus the L85A3 updated rifle with six soldiers from 5th Battalion, The Rifles.

The two-day exercise took place on Salisbury Plain and the course consisted of 14 firing points and 36 actions, requiring soldiers to engage targets ranging from 25m to 400m from a variety of firing positions.

Experts from Dstl have been working with the soldiers to ensure they are equipped with the most effective kit possible.

The Soldier Weapon and Equipment Assessment Tool (SWEAT) tests the impact of soldier equipment on firing accuracy, consistency, speed and mobility 

These tests were executed as part of the NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO) Research Task Group SAS-145.

This research is overseen by STO's System Analysis and Studies (SAS) Panel, NATO's Expert Panel for Analytical Advice – which promotes the exchange of trial data and enhances interoperability within the alliance.

Jon, from Dstl, said: "The idea behind the SWEAT course is that anyone can measure the effects of future soldier capability, such as a new weapons system, new boots, a new helmet or new body armour, and assess the effect that will provide upon the individual's lethality".

"This course for the UK, in the future, will be used to measure the effects of new capabilities for soldiers.

"The final objective of the trial is for it to be used and developed by NATO nations to develop their own courses that are similar enough to allow interoperability between nations."

Elizabeth, from the US Army, who was observing on behalf of NATO, said: "It's doing something novel and innovative.

"Taking different components that have been separated, so lethality, survivability and mobility – bringing them into a course that comprehensively tests soldier systems.

"It's a much better evaluation than has existed before."