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£90 Million Contract Equips Armed Forces with Advanced New Rifle

Wednesday, September 6th, 2023

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


Ministry of Defence and James Cartlidge MP


7 September 2023

The new advanced rifle.

• New rifle provides UK troops with an improved lethal capability on the battlefield.

• Rifle more discreet through sight and hearing signature reduction.

• Up to 10,000 weapons could be procured over the next 10 years.

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, supporting the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy by helping sustain approximately 50 jobs at the family-owned company.

Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge said:

This is another example of how we are committed to investing in the most advanced battlefield equipment to back our troops on the battlefield. This advanced rifle’s ability to help soldiers maintain the stealth edge not only protects them but delivers war-fighting advantage over our adversaries.

An initial £15 million order of 1,620 AIW systems has been placed, with options to procure up to 10,000 systems – totalling £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.

DE&S Dismounted Close Combat Portfolio Leader, Colonel Paul Cummings, said:

Project Hunter has been a fabulous example of close collaboration with the user community and strong engagement with industry to deliver game-changing capability at pace. This is another example of the enormous commitment of the men and women in DCC to deliver battle-winning capability into the hands of the user and I’m enormously proud of what they have achieved. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Edgar Brothers as we move into the production phase.

The L403A1 is a high performing modern development of the ArmaLite Rifle (AR), which pushes the boundaries of modern performance. As an AR system, it shares much in common with the rifle systems used by many of the UK’s allies. Given their specialist role, and the critical task of working with and alongside many of the UK’s allies, the platform will enable ASOB to share skills and drills in an efficient manner.

Lt Col Gareth Davies, SO1 SoldierWorks, Military Capability Delivery, Army Headquarters, said:

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.

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.

The Australian Combat Assault Rifle by Lithgow Arms

Wednesday, September 6th, 2023

Australian small arms manufacturer Lithgow Arms has formally launched their Australian Combat Assault Rifle line with two current models, the ACAR 5.56/300BLK and the ACAR 7.62. Both feature Direct Impingement operating systems. However, Lithgow Arms continues to develop the line and we should see a piston gun next year.

Designed and manufactured in a collaboration between Thales’s Lithgow Arms and Australian small arms specialist Wedgetail Industries, the ACAR series delivers high quality and mission flexibility for defence and law enforcement customers.

This video gives a quick overview of the ACAR.

We offered a sneak peek during last year’s Land Forces conference and will check these latest versions out during next week’s DSEI in London.

To learn more, visit

US Army Precision Grenadier System Update

Wednesday, August 30th, 2023

The US Army’s Precision Grenadier System effort we told you about last September is underway to handle counter defilade and counter UAS at the squad level.

The PGS shall be a Soldier portable, flat trajectory, semi-automatic, magazine fed, integrated armament system that enables precision engagements to destroy personnel targets in defilade and in the open with increased lethality and precision compared to legacy grenade launchers. The PGS is anticipated to be deployed as a Soldier’s primary weapon system and provide organic close-quarters combat and counter-defilade capabilities through a family of ammunition, providing overmatch to comparable threat grenade launchers in near-peer formations in future operating environments to include urban, woodland, subterranean, and desert, in day, night, or obscured conditions.

The Army is seeking a multi-shot grande launcher which integrates a sophisticated Fire Control System capable of programming rounds along with a family of programmable ammunition.

Family of Ammunition:

a. Counter Defilade Round: Round to precisely and quickly defeat personnel targets in defilade positions.

b. Training Round: Non-pyrotechnic round ballistically similar to the counter defilade round to train the PGS capability.

c. Close Quarters Battle Round: Round to precisely and quickly defeat personnel targets at ranges less than 35 meters.

d. Expanded Capabilities: Ability to expand capabilities is desired with different types of ammo such as:

i. Counter Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Round

ii. Armor-Piercing Round

Naturally, this will also require a power supply.

Additionally, PGS must be lethal from distances of 35m to 500M or longer against unprotected soldiers in both the open and in cover and with a time of flight no greater than 3 seconds out to 500 meters.

It is important to note that the Army has not specified caliber, but rather effect, and has left it open to the various vendors to create the complete system.

Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier partnered with the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) (ASA(ALT)), to use the xTechSoldier Lethality competition as a platform to interact with industry.

The xTechSoldier Lethality competition consists of three-rounds:

1 Call for concept white papers;

2 Technology Pitch; and

3 Final Proof-of-Concept Demonstration

So far, we’ve seen round 1 which selected five companies based upon their white paper submissions. Each of these small businesses will receive a cash prize of $15,000 and an invitation to advance to Part 2: Technology Pitches where the teams will showcase their innovative concepts for a Precision Grenadier System (PGS):

American Rheinmetall Munitions, “Squad Support Weapon Achieving Precision Grenadier System Objectives”

FN America, LLC, “PGS-001”

Knight Technical Solutions, LLC, “Multipurpose Intelligent Grenade System ‘MIGS’”

MARS, Inc., “MARS, Inc. 30mm Support Rifle System (SRS)”

Plumb Precision Products, LLC, “P3 M110 Precision Grenade Launcher”

Up to three companies will be selected from the virtual technology pitch round (round 2) and receive an additional $300,000 each in cash prizes and the opportunity to come back in 6 to 18 months to conduct a final proof-of-concept demonstration (round 3).

Those technology pitches are set to begin today, Aug 29, 2023 and last until Sep 1st.

One final winner may be selected and awarded up to $2M in a follow-on contract or agreement. The target for this phase is Mar 1, 2024 – Mar 31, 2025.

SSD readers may be familiar with the Rheinmetall and Plumb Precision Products system which we have covered in the past.

Smith & Wesson Introduces FDE to the M&P 5.7 Series

Tuesday, August 15th, 2023

SPRINGFIELD, MA., (8/15/2023) – Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ Global Select: SWBI), a leader in firearm manufacturing and design, today announced the release of the new two-tone, FDE M&P5.7 pistol.

Combining features of the tested M&P series with a new gas-operated, locked-breech, Tempo™ Barrel System, Smith & Wesson unveiled the M&P5.7 pistol aimed at offering a more reliable, accurate, and consistent shooting experience in a handgun platform for the increasingly popular 5.7x28mm caliber. Designed to harness the speed of the round, its 5-inch barrel allows for a quicker extraction once the bullet passes the gas port, creating a more secured fireform effect.

In its debut, the series included two models, both with a black polymer frame and black Armornite®  slide finish, available with or without a manual thumb safety. Now joining the M&P5.7 lineup is a sharp two-tone setup of a classic Armornite finished slide and black controls, paired with a tactical Flat Dark Earth toned polymer frame.

The two-tone FDE M&P5.7 is optics ready, has a Picatinny-style rail for added accessories, and includes a 1/2×28 threaded muzzle with a thread protector to allow for suppressed shooting capabilities. Its single-action flat-face trigger maintains a crisp break and is designed to allow for consistent finger placement that translates to more accurate and repeatable shooting. This pistol has an impressive 22-round capacity, ships with two magazines, and is proudly made in the U.S.A. Pick up the Tempo™  with accurate and consistent results from the new-look M&P5.7.

MSRP is $719.00

Check out the two-tone FDE M&P5.7 at

B&T USA Announces Commercial Release of its APC9K SD2 US Army Submission

Monday, August 14th, 2023

Tampa, FL (August 14th, 2023) – B&T USA is excited to announce that due to continual requests by those familiar with the project, we have been persuaded to produce a limited number of integrally suppressed APC9K SD2 models complete with its scalable suppressor system. This variant was submitted for consideration during the United States Army Sub Compact Weapon (SCW) trials, with said branch ultimately selecting B&T USA’s APC9K and awarding it the SCW Contract.

“To win a US Government contract, you must submit a product that as closely meets their defined specifications as possible — not necessarily what you think the end user needs or even a product that is scalable to best suit its future needs — as was the case with the SD2; the advanced platform was not what the Army required in 2019, but one we anticipate it may in the future” said Chris Mudgett, Vice President of Marketing, B&T USA.

“At less than 15-inches in overall length, the APC9K SD2 is the shortest integrally suppressed submachine gun currently available. It is optimized for low visibility carriage and discreet deployment; while delivering unsurpassed accuracy, controllability, and ergonomics. With its advanced scalable suppressor system, the SD2 is a solution for your future mission.”

For more information on B&T USA, visit:

FN Extends Line of Big Bore Pistols with New MRD Models

Tuesday, August 8th, 2023

The Optics-Ready FN 510 and 545 MRD Offer Pinpoint Control and Accuracy
(McLean, VA  – August 08, 2023) FN America, LLC is pleased to announce the release of the striker-fired FN 510 MRD and 545 MRD optics-ready big bore pistols. With dimensions just slightly larger than an FN 509, these two big bore pistols are ideal for users who want to carry with a lot more stopping power. The pistols feature 15+1 rounds of 10mm or .45ACP at the ready, a target-grade 6-pound trigger pull with crisp break, and the company’s patented optics mount that enables enhanced accuracy, making them the perfect tool for personal and home defense. Harness the stopping power of these big bore calibers and be ready to face any situation that may come.

“Following the overwhelmingly positive response to the FN 510 and 545 Tactical, which released in January, we received customer feedback requesting models in these calibers with flush-fit barrels, day sights and magazines that were more carry-friendly, as well as accessible in states that restrict threaded barrels or capacity,” said Chris Cole, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for FN America, LLC. “These MRD models, following the successful formula of the FN 509 MRD models, feature our patented optics mounting technology in a 15-round grip frame optimized for accuracy and shootability.”

The FN 510 and 545 MRD feature a flush-fit, 4.1-inch barrel housed within a machined steel slide with front and rear cocking serrations for ease of manipulation. The barrels are cold hammer-forged with a recessed target crown to extend accuracy and a polished feed ramp to ensure reliable feeding of the majority of commercially available loads in both 10mm and .45ACP.

The MRD slide is equipped with FN’s patented Low-Profile Optics-Mounting System that accepts all major optics footprints and enables consumers to direct-mount nearly any optic in minutes with the included hardware while a set of fully adjustable blacked-out iron sights co-witness with most optics and are to provide a clear sight picture, allowing the user the focus on the red dot of the optic.

The impressive ergonomics and contouring of the 15-round grip frame deliver the perfect balance to the slide. The included backstraps can be installed to adjust the fit in the user’s hand to deliver a natural point of aim and dampen felt recoil, especially in 10mm. Coupled with the three distinct grip textures that all play a role in anchoring the pistol to the hand, the FN 510 and 545 MRD are extremely controllable and shootable big bore pistols.

FN 510 and 545 MRD Specifications:

• Chambered in 10mm Auto or .45 ACP

• 4.1-inch flush-fit cold hammer-forged barrel for states that restrict threaded barrels; compatible with FN 510 or 545 Tactical barrels

• 15-round standard capacity with option for 10-round capacity for restricted states; compatible with FN 510 and 545 Tactical extended magazines

• FN Low-Profile Optics-Mounting System with co-witness, blacked-out iron sights

• Target-grade trigger with approximately 6-pound break

• Ambidextrous controls

To learn more about the FN 510 or 545 family of pistols, please visit

NGSW Is Coming

Friday, August 4th, 2023

The countdown is happening…

First Unit Issued, 101st Abn Div, September, 2023.

Young Guns – Aquaterro Receives First Order for Sidearm Weapon System from Australian Defence Force

Friday, July 21st, 2023

Aquaterro has received its first Purchase Order for the new Sidearm Weapon System (SWS) under the Australian Defence Force LAND 159 Program.

The multi-million dollar PO comes after exhaustive engineering analysis, testing, and evaluation since contract award in October 2022. This effort enables the weapon system to be introduced into service with the ADF and confirms Aquaterro as the largest participant supplier of weapon systems under LAND 159.

The new ADF SWS comprises the SIG P320 X-Carry Pro, SIG ROMEO2 Red Dot Sight, and SIG FOXTROT2 Weapon Light.

Image Source: Commonwealth copyright Department of Defence©

The Australian Army is upgrading its lethality system, including its small arms capabilities through Project LAND 159. The LAND 159 government website states that it is undertaking the procurement of “next-generation weapon systems, ammunition, and training and support systems [that] will ensure that ADF ground combatants maintain a capability advantage over potential adversaries to beyond 2030.

All SIG P320s will complete their final manufacturing process: application of customer-specific laser engraving, at Aquaterro’s new Laser Machining Centre, located within Aquaterro’s High Security Defence Precinct in Southeast Melbourne.

Utilising multiple advanced workstations, Aquaterro qualified armourers and laser technicians will disassemble the weapons, conduct the laser engraving, reassemble the weapons, perform function checks, and package them for delivery to the ADF via NIOA, the program managing contractor.

Aquaterro Founder and CEO, Graeme Bulte said, “We are thrilled that these systems are now lined up for production at SIG’s manufacturing facilities, and our team is prepped and ready for their arrival and clearance into Australia.  The extensive testing and evaluation conducted for the ADF program confirms the products have met the rigorous requirements of the ADF, and we can’t wait for them to begin to arrive at our facility in Melbourne towards the end of this year.”  “We are proud of the combined work of our team and with the solid support from SIG, which is aiming to provide these weapons on budget and substantially ahead of schedule”.

Image Source: Commonwealth copyright Department of Defence©

Aquaterro is a 100% Australian owned, medium-sized company that has grown over 30 years under the same ownership, to become one of Australia’s largest providers of individual equipment, including small arms and munitions, to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and police customers around Australia. Aquaterro employs 50+ people, and is headquartered in its new, purpose-built ~11,000m2 secure defence industry precinct in Southeast Melbourne. Aquaterro has delivered over $150m worth of equipment to Defence over the past 7 years, via LAND 125’s Tiered Combat Helmet (Team Wendy EXFIL) and Night Vision Goggle Mount (Wilcox G24) contracts alone; proudly achieving a faultless Scorecard record for delivery of these supplies.

Aquaterro’s facilities include advanced manufacturing as well as industrial research, engineering, in-house design, and sovereign manufacturing capability. Aquaterro also designs and manufactures equipment under its own Peacemaker® brand, which it provides to clients across Australia and exports overseas.

SIG SAUER and Aquaterro have been working closely since 2017 to offer world-leading solutions and win business in the Australian Defence and Law Enforcement market. This PO is the latest and largest contract for SIG weapon systems in Australia to date, and demonstrates the commitment both companies have for Australia.

Aquaterro was also selected to supply the new Personal Defence Weapon System (PDWS) into LAND 159, consisting of the SIG MCX, ROMEO4T Optic, JULIET4 Magnifier, and SIG Suppressors.  These items are completing their test and evaluation processes prior to a procurement decision.”