The British Army is sinking £5.4 million into Heckler & Koch to upgrade its standard issue SA80 rifle to help prolong its life beyond 2025, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defence.
The current issued SA80 is the A2 and will be upgraded to the A3 variant U.K. officials announced in April. And the British Army already started doling out the new A3 upgraded rifles in February.
“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.” Defence Procurement Minister Guto Bebb said in a press release. “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.”
The upgraded rifles are already being issued out across the British Army. On April 22, the British Army uploaded a video to its official Facebook page showing soldiers from the Grenadier Guards firing the new SA80A3 at the ranges as part of pre-deployment training.
The Grenadier Guards is one of the oldest regiments in the British Army.
The 5.56 mm SA80 rifle has been in the British arsenal since the late 1980s and has undergone various upgrades along the way.
The new SA80A3 sports a new durable coating with better camouflage to blend into a multitude of environments.
The A3 is also 100 grams lighter than its predecessor and comes with a “more streamlined fore grip making the weapon easier to handle,” the press release reads.
A new bracket system on the rifle eases the ability to clip on new low light sights without the need to remove day optics.
“The SA80 is a battle proven weapon used by the UK Armed Forces on operations all over the world,” Maj. Gen. Colin McClean, the director of land equipment at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organization, said in the press release. “The upgrade will build upon the rifle’s state-of-the-art features enhancing accuracy and consistency.”
The initial program will upgrade about 5,000 rifles with more to be upgraded at a later date.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.