The British Army has awarded Heckler & Koch a $95 million contract for SA80 rifle upgrade.
According to Grant Turnbull from Jane’s International Defence Review, UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to receive up to 44,000 upgraded L85A3/SA80A3 rifles over the next four to five years.
“A notice was issued on 28 October stating that the MoD intended to award NSAF Limited, a UK subsidiary of Heckler & Koch, a contract worth up to GBP75 million (USD95.6 million) to modify and supply 44,000 upgraded 5.56×45 mm SA80 rifles,” said Grant Turnbull.
The A3 variant is designed to be 100g lighter than the SA80 A2 rifle and features a more streamlined foregrip for easy handling. Also A3 upgrade fixes issues with the over-rotation of the selector lever, adds a new upper receiver and refurbishes the lower. A new custom forend from H&K has been added and a full-length top rail improves optic mounting.
The army-technology.com reported that modifications to the weapon will involve painting it with a more durable ‘flat dark earth’ coloured Cerakote coating that would help minimise both the visual and infra-red impact. This will provide operators with better camouflage capability in a range of environments.
The SA80 is a British family of 5.56×45mm NATO small arms, all of which are selective fire, gas-operated assault rifles.
The first prototypes were created in 1976, with production ending in 1994. The A1 variant was significantly upgraded in the early 2000s by Heckler & Koch as the SA80A2 and remains in service as of 2018. The A3 variant was first issued in 2018.