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Mid-Life Improvement Approved for British Army Rifles

Enhancements Will Extend Life to 2025 and Beyond

The British Army’s SA80 A2 ‘hand-held assault weapon’ will be upgraded into the A3 model under the Mid Life Improvement (MLI) programme, which will ensure the rifle has the enhancements needed to remain in service until 2025 and beyond, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 11 April.
An initial investment of £5.4 million (€6.25 million) for the programme, which will be carried out by Heckler and Koch, will help sustain around 20 highly skilled jobs at the Nottingham Small Arms Factory owned by the company. MLI will see 5,000 weapons upgraded initially, with the intent to upgrade more weapons in the future. The fielding of the first tranche began in February 2018.

The changes to the rifle include:
• A more durable hardwearing coating in a ‘Flat Dark Earth’ colour, offering better camouflage in a range of environments;
• The A3 is 100g lighter than the A2 and has a more streamlined foregrip, making the weapon easier to handle.
• The A3 rifle 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 or night conditions.

“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. This investment is also a boost to Nottingham’s highly-skilled gun-makers who proudly support our troops in their task to protect our country in the face of intensifying threats,” commented Minister for Defence Procurement, Guto Bebb.

“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 Mid Life Improvement project will ensure that our troops have the right equipment at the right time,” added the Director, Land Equipment at Defence Equipment and Support, Maj.-Gen.Colin McClean.

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Publish date

04/13/2018

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