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Details emerge on British Army's small arms replacement projects

A KS-1 5.56 mm rifle equipped with Vortex LPVO, Aimpoint Micro red dot, and a KAC suppressor. This configuration will be used by the British Army's Ranger Regiment. (Janes/Amael Kotlarski)

Further details of the status of the British Army's efforts to replace and introduce new small arms were revealed during Defence iQ's International Dismounted Soldier 2023 conference in London.

Janes has learnt that the now completed Project Hunter evaluated five rifles: Knight's Armament KS-1, Daniel Defense MK18 and HK416, Glock GR115, and the Sig Sauer MCX Virtus, with the KS-1 being selected and adopted in September 2023 as the L403A1. Project Hunter was focused on delivering the Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) for the British Army's Ranger Regiment and the Royal Marines, and lessons learned will inform Project Grayburn, which, although not yet a programme of record, is seeking to outline the core characteristics of the British Army's next-generation Individual Weapon (IW) to replace the SA80 family of rifles (L85A2, L85A3, L22A1).

The new IW system will consist of a rifle using a common lower receiver group and a variable upper receiver group based on role. Variable Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) systems will also be procured and issued based on role. All variants of the rifle will be built around a common ammunition requirement, which was confirmed to be designed around the 5.56×45 mm cartridge. The new rifle will most likely be of a conventional layout rather than a bullpup, such as the SA80.

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