UK MOD acts over SA80 concerns
http://defence-data.com/storypic/sa80.jpg [not image]
26 June 2000
In response to a barrage of criticism about the ineffectiveness of the SA80 weapon system, particularly when operating in climatic extremes, the UK MOD has announced that it is to implement an extensive modification programme.
Making this announcement on Friday UK Defence Procurement Minister, Baroness Symons, said "Our Armed Forces deserve to be equipped with weapons in which they have full confidence. The SA80 is an effective weapon system. But there has long been concern over its performance in certain extremes of climate. We now know that the weapon can be improved. The programme that I have announced today will make the SA80 amongst the best in the world. It demonstrates our willingness to take quick and decisive procurement action when required.'
The contract which, subject to satisfactory contractual negotiations, will be awarded to Heckler and Koch, a subsidiary of Royal Ordnance, is to modify some 200,000 SA80 weapons, including both the Individual Weapon and the Light Support Weapon. The overall cost of the modification programme is estimated at around Ј80M, including the cost of trials and support.
The first modified weapons will be produced next January, with a total of 22,000 weapons to be delivered by the end of next year.
The decision follows Heckler & Koch (UK) Ltd's report into the causes of the reliability problems and potential modifications. Comprehensive climatic trials were conducted in 1999 with the final design authority report received in December 1999.
The extant of the reworking of the weapon is considerable. The work comprises both modification of the existing weapons and a number of replacement components. The modified items are:
Barrel Extension (one and a half lugs removed to allow for revised extractor shape)
Bolt Head Carrier (polish contact surface to reduce friction),
Hammer Stop (strengthened) and
Receiver (ejection port enlarged to allow clean ejection).
The new components are:
Magazine (re-designed for improved feed),
Firing Pin (improved tolerances and extended life),
Hammer (increased mass to overcome bolt bounce),
Gas Plug (radiused at collar to prevent shearing),
Gas Cylinder (greater tolerances),
New Springs (optimise performance, including recoil springs, ejector springs, extractor spring),
Bolt Assembly/Extractor (improve extraction pattern),
Cocking Lever (revised shape to deflect cases) and
New barrel for the LSW (increased life).
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