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Serial number 611  Released on Thursday 18th October 2001


The Armed Forces Minister, The Right Honourable Adam Ingram, today announced the results of the exhaustive SA80 A2 modification trials programme. As a result of the modifications the A2 is one of, if not the most reliable 5.56mm rifle in the world.

Both variants of the SA80 A2, the Individual Weapon (IW) and the Light Support Weapon (LSW) were subjected to a series of gruelling tests during which over 3 million rounds were fired. The trials were conducted in four phases and were designed to test the A2’s reliability in a range of challenging climatic conditions.

The tests set by the MOD are the toughest reliability criteria imposed by any nation. On average, across all of the trials, the IW fired an average of 25,200 rounds before it failed a test, known as a battlefield mission*. The LSW, which has a much tougher mission requirement, fired an average of 12,897 rounds before it too failed. This compares very favourably to all of the small arms in its class** and exceeds the expected service life of the A2 (10,000 rounds, after which it is refurbished). It is, therefore, possible for an A2 to suffer no failures during its service life.

The A2 will be issued on a phased basis from December 2001. Although the unmodified SA80 is a capable weapon the modification programme can be brought forward, if there is an operational requirement to do so. There are currently around 10,000 modified weapons in stock.

The modification programme will cost around £92 million, including the cost of spares, trials etc. Around 200,000 weapons will be modified.

The Armed Forces Minister, The Right Honourable Adam Ingram said “The trials were designed to push the weapons to the very limit of their endurance. I’m delighted to say that the SA80 A2 passed with flying colours. It is more than capable of the task that we have given it and it will equip our armed forces until a new small arm is introduced in around 2015.”

Major Andrew MacDonald (Princess of Wales Royal Regiment (PWRR)), the head of the trials team said “I’m convinced that the SA80 A2 is the best 5.56mm rifle in the world, if there is a better one I haven’t seen it yet.” He added, “If I was going to go to war tomorrow I couldn’t think of a more reliable and accurate weapon to take with me than the A2. It would certainly be my weapon of choice.”

Flight Lieutenant Ian Caesar (RAF Regiment) added “I was in Brunei for the tests where I was impressed to the point of boredom. Whenever there was a stoppage, which was very rare, people woke up and came running to have a look. The reliability of this weapon has been hugely improved”.

A press facility is being held today in Warminster. Facility invitations were issued on 1 October.

* See note 4 below
** For reasons of commercial sensitivity we are unable to release figures for small
arms used by other nations.

- ends –
Notes to editors
1. Further information on the A2 modification programme is available from or Andrew Willis (D News Press Office) on 020 7218 7714 or (from 19 October) Clive Bull (Directorate of Corporate Communication (Army)) on 020 7218 3815.
2. Pictures of the modified A2 can be obtained from Terry Champion at the Army Picture Library on 01722 433622.
3. A copy of the press pack given to the media at today’s media launch is available from the Army internet site This includes a Q&A and a technical specification.
4. The tests are designed to replicate ‘typical’ battlefield missions. The IW and LSW have different battlefield missions:

Individual Weapon Light Support Weapon
30 rpm (single shot for 40 seconds10 rpm (single shot) for 6 minutes30 rpm (single shot) for 1 minute 10 x 4 rounds (in bursts) 1 minuteTotal 150 rounds in 8 minutes 40 seconds 60 rpm (in bursts) for 3 minutes Wait of 1 minute (replicates change of position)60 rpm (in bursts) for 3 minutesWait of 2 minutes (replicates refill 5 magazines and move) 60 rpm (in bursts) for 2 minutes 30 seconds Wait of 10 minutes (replicates move, reload, receive orders and move) 30 rpm (single shot) for 10 minutesWait of 2 minutes (replicates refill 5 magazines and move) 60 rpm (in bursts) for 2 minutes 30 seconds Total 960 rounds in 36 minutes

5. The modifications include - breech block, breech bolt, cartridge extractor, cartridge ejector, recoil springs, extractor spring, firing pin, cocking handle, magazine (the whole magazine has been replaced), gas plug and cylinder, hammer and barrel (LSW only).
6. The results of each phase of the trials programme are:

Individual Weapon Light Support Weapon
Trials Type/Location MRBF* MRBF*
Cold/Dry - Alaska 31,500 43,200
Temperate - UK >31,500 16,000
Hot/wet - Brunei >31,500 9,600
Hot/Dry - Kuwait 7,875 8,728
Average 25,200 12,897

* Mean Rounds Between Failure (MRBF). This is a measure of the average number of rounds that are fired between failures of a battlefield mission. A battlefield mission was counted as a failure when there was more than one stoppage that the soldier could clear immediately on their own or there was a stoppage that required an armourer or a tool to clear.

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Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of this information, personnel must confirm details through the chain of command or with their Administrative Office before taking any action or making any commitment. Last Reviewed: 17 Jul 03