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UK orders 5.56 mm rifles

DE&S has awarded a contract for the AIW system to equip the British Army and the Royal Marines (pictured). (Royal Navy)

The UK Ministry of Defence and its Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) organisation announced on 7 September the award of a contract for the Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) system, designated the L403A1 in UK service. DE&S awarded an initial contract for 1,620 AIW systems worth GBP15 million (USD18.7 million), with options for 10,000 systems for a total of GBP90 million.

The systems will equip the British Army and the Royal Marines, starting with the Army Special Operations Brigade. The brigade's Ranger Regiment will receive the AIW later in 2023.

UK-based prime contractor Edgar Brothers is responsible for sourcing and assembling AIW subsystems. The system, Knight's Stoner 1 (KS-1) 5.56 mm rifle, is manufactured by Knights Armament Company and the optical sight with magnification by Vortex Optics, both US companies.

The AIW has advanced optical and thermal sights as well as suppressor systems, the Royal Navy said on its website on 7 September. DE&S added that the optical sight allows threats to be engaged at greater ranges, while the signature reduction system masks the AIW from detection from sight and hearing.

The L403A1 is a development of the ArmaLite rifle with much commonality with allies' rifle systems, according to DE&S.

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