British Ministry of Defense Signs £90 Million Contract for New Assault Rifle

Under a new £90 million contract, the UK Ministry of Defense will procure up to 10,000 new assault rifles equipped with a muzzle reduction system and an improved optics sighting system. (Image: UK MOD)

British troops will soon be more lethal on the battlefield, as a new £90 million contract delivers modern, high precision rifles.

The Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) system - known as the L403A1 and procured by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) under Project Hunter – is made up of a new assault rifle fitted with a muzzle signature reduction system and an improved optical sighting system.

The AIW is a modern rifle using the latest in design technology and manufacturing methods, to produce an exceptionally reliable and accurate weapon. The magnified optic means the user is able to engage threats from greater distances; whilst the signature reduction system works to mask the AIW from detection from sight and hearing.

Supplementing the current in-service L85A3, the AIW system has been secured under a £90 million contract with Macclesfield-based company Edgar Brothers. The company is responsible for sourcing and assembling the sub-systems that make up the Hunter system. The rifle is manufactured by Knights Armament Corporation and the magnified optic sight is manufactured Vortex Optics, two U.S.-based companies.

An initial £15 million order of 1,620 AIW systems has been placed, with options to procure up to 10,000 systems – totaling £90 million - under the contract over the next decade. The systems will initially be fielded to the Army Special Operations Brigade (ASOB) who operate in complex, high threat environments.

"Project Hunter has successfully delivered a new weapon option for UK Defence. At the current time this is being procured for the Army Special Operations Brigade (ASOB). It offers a marked increase in lethality, and the system includes one of most capable day sights currently available. Importantly the weapon system will be further enhanced by our newest generation of night optics, with which the ASOB are already equipped," said Lt. Col Gareth Davies, SO1 SoldierWorks, Military Capability Delivery, Army Headquarters.

As a key component of the ASOB, the Ranger Regiment will receive the AIW later this year. Made up of four battalions, the Rangers deployed to over 60 countries in their first 12 months of operation, following their formation as part Future Soldier under the Defence Command Paper 2021.