A new rifle is being bought for troops in Afghanistan that will improve the long-range firepower available on the frontline, the Ministry of Defence announced today. The Sharpshooter rifle will fire a 7.62mm round and will enhance accuracy of engagement during longer-range firefights with the Taliban and this weapon will be used by some of the best shots in the Infantry.
The Sharpshooter will complement the already potent range of weapons used by our forces in Afghanistan, which includes:
- SA80A2 assault rifles, which fires 5.56mm rounds;
- Light Machine Guns, which fires 5.56mm rounds;
- General Purpose Machine Guns, which fires 7.62mm bullets;
- the Combat Shotgun, which fires 12-gauge shells;
- the Sniper System, which fires 8.59mm bullets;
- Javelin Weapons System, the integrated fire-and-forget missile system.
More than 400 of the semi-automatic Sharpshooter rifles have been bought as a £1.5M Urgent Operational Requirement. It is the first new Infantry combat rifle to be issued to troops for more than 20 years.
Training on the rifles will begin in mid January 2010 and the first batch will be sent to Afghanistan later in the year.
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said:
“Troops in Afghanistan are already bristling with a variety of weapons they can use when fighting the Taliban. The Sharpshooter rifle adds to this arsenal and provides them with an additional, highly-precise, long-range capability. This is a concrete example of where we add to our range of equipment to ensure our brave forces have the best kit available to them on the frontline.”
Colonel Peter Warden, Light Weapons, Photographic and Batteries Team Leader at Defence, Equipment and Support, said:
“The Sharpshooter rifle is very capable and has been bought to fulfil a specific role on the frontline in Afghanistan. It is a versatile weapon which will give our units a new dimension to their armoury. It will complement the SA80A2 by adding to the weapons available to Commanders on the ground. The Sharpshooter’s capabilities are also complementary to the current Sniper System.
“Initial feedback to the rifle has been very positive and the Army units deployed in Afghanistan are very keen to get their hands on it.”
New sights to be bought for the Sharpshooter rifle include the ACOG 7.62 mm x 6 day sights made by Trijicon of the USA and Magnum Universal night sight sourced through Omni Tech Partners of the USA. Both sights are being bought by Beechwood, the UK agent and distributor for Trijicon and Omni Tech. Personal Laser Range Finders will be provided by Vectronix, Switzerland.