UK Signs Signature-Masking Rifle Deal for Army

UK Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) has signed a contract with Edgar Brothers to provide the British Army with L403A1 signature-masking rifles.

The L403A1 is being procured as part of Project Hunter, a UK defense effort seeking new Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) systems to complement the army’s L85A3 NATO-standard rifles.

The new armaments are modern iterations of the ArmaLite Rifle or AR. Their latest signature-masking technology hides the AIW from hearing and sight detectors.

In addition, the system is equipped with magnified optics to enable enemy neutralization at longer distances.

Up to 10,000 Rifles Expected

Under the program, DE&S placed an initial order for 1,620 AIWs worth 15 million pounds ($18.79 million).

An option to acquire up to 10,000 rifles for the next 10 years has been signed for 90 million pounds ($112.73 million).

The contract will sustain around 50 jobs at the Macclesfield-based weapons developer firm throughout the initiative.

L403A1 rifle, and Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) system
L403A1 rifle, and Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) system. Photo: British Army

“Project Hunter has been a fabulous example of close collaboration with the user community and strong engagement with industry to deliver game-changing capability at pace,” DE&S Dismounted Close Combat (DCC) Leader Col. Paul Cummings stated.

“This is another example of the enormous commitment of the men and women in DCC to deliver battle-winning capability into the hands of the user and I’m enormously proud of what they have achieved.”

Army Special Operations Brigade to Field L403A1

The British Army Special Operations Brigade (ASOB) Ranger Regiment will field the first tranche of L403A1s in high-threat and austere environments.

The regiment comprises four battalions deployed to more than 60 countries. It was formed under the UK Ministry of Defence’s Future Soldier warfighter capability enhancement program.

“The L403A1 is an exciting step in the evolution of the Army Special Operations Brigade. The new rifle will field our soldiers with an excellent weapon system that is more interoperable with our partners across the world,” ASOB Commander Brig. Rob Hedderwick said.

“It offers a marked increase in lethality, and the system includes one of the most capable day sights currently available,” British Army Military Capability Delivery’s Lt. Col. Gareth Davies added.

“Importantly, the weapon system will be further enhanced by our newest generation of night optics, with which the ASOB are already equipped.”

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