UK's Royal Marine Commandos & Ranger Regiment To Get The New L403A1 Assault Rifle

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UK AIW L403A1 Rifle

The Knight’s Stoner 1 (KS-1) rifle has been selected to be the new assault rifle during Project Hunter's Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) selection. The KS-1 will have the official designation as the L403A1 and will be supplied by the Edgar Brothers, as they are the Prime Contractor and UK Distributors.

An initial order for 1,620 Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) systems at a cost of £15 million has been placed. The contract also includes an option to purchase up to 10,000 more systems over the next 10 years, which could bring the total cost to £90 million. The AIW is a modern rifle that uses the latest in design technology and manufacturing methods to produce an exceptionally reliable and accurate weapon. It is also equipped with a magnified optic that allows users to engage threats from greater distances. The first AIW systems will also be delivered to the Ranger Regiment, which is part of the Army Special Operations Brigade (ASOB), later this year. The ASOB operates in complex and high-risk environments, and the AIW will give them the capabilities they need to succeed in these challenging missions.

UK AIW L403A1 Rifle 02

In a news post on the Royal Navy website, this new weapon is part of a range of equipment upgrades for the UK Commando Forces’ "lead strike teams", who are responsible for conducting raiding and amphibious operations worldwide. Over a thousand of these rifles, equipped with advanced optical and thermal sights as well as suppressor systems, have been purchased from US manufacturers Knight’s Armament Company.

The Commando Force is known for its global deployments in diverse environments, from arctic to desert to jungle. Their wide range of operations includes counter piracy and terrorism, drugs busts, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief. This necessitates top-tier equipment to ensure these specialist warriors maintain an advantage on the battlefield. The Royal Navy is investing in new equipment for its elite, high readiness fighting force, including night vision goggles, tactical communications systems, battlefield vehicles, and ‘survivability systems’ such as new helmets and suppressors.

Captain Nick Unwin RN, Commando Force Programme Director, has praised the delivery of this high-quality equipment. He believes it significantly enhances the capability and capacity of the UK’s Commando Force Strike Teams, providing them with a significant tactical advantage. The Commando Force Programme is driving change across all areas of amphibious operations in response to evolving threats and challenges.

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The KS-1 offering was designed to meet the requirements of the Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) System. The AIW System is composed of three key elements. The first is the Rifle System, which includes the rifle itself and a Signature Reduction System. The second element is the Optic System, which is equipped with a Low Power Variable Optic (LPVO), a Mini Red Dot (RDS), and an Emergency Back Up Sight (EBS). The final component is the Training System, which incorporates a Safe Blank Firing System (SBFS) and a Marker Round Training System (MRTS). These elements work together to provide a comprehensive and versatile weapon system.

Edgard Brothers have assembled the KS-1 package to meet specific requirements, utilizing proven solutions from various suppliers. The package includes the KS-1 Rifle, PRT suppressors, and Safe Blank Firing System (SBFS) from Knight’s Armament Company (KAC). It also features a 1-10x LPVO from Vortex Optics and an ACRO P-2 MRD from Aimpoint. Reptilia has contributed their AUS Mount, ROF 90 Mount, Dot Mount, and various other accessories. Magpul has provided their PMAG, MBUS PRO EBS, and other accessories. Lastly, Simunition has included their line of FX Conversion Kits and PPE to work with the in-service MRTS ammunition.

UK AIW L403A1 Rifle 04

UK AIW L403A1 Rifle 05

The contract will include several firm requirements for Edgar Brothers to improve social value in the UK, covering the five key themes of the Social Value Model.

Mike Newman, Director of Edgar Brothers, said that, "Project Hunter is an extremely complex programme that pushed the limits of innovation for the modern personal weapon system, yet remained practical for industry to implement. As a testimony to Knights Armament and Edgar Brothers’ dedication, plus our industry partners Vortex, Reptilia, Aimpoint, and Magpul, the KS-1 rifle system was born and has earned recognition after undergoing rigorous testing. The base weapon, combined with market-leading Surveillance Target Acquisition (STA) and ancillaries has now set a new standard."

He added, "Newman continued, “As with every programme we undertake, Edgar Brothers’ main goal is to enhance the soldiers’ capabilities to effectively perform their mission. We are now looking forward to working alongside the Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) team to bring the system into service. This Contract win strengthens our growth trajectory and provides us with the opportunity to expand our team by hiring exceptional talent from our local community. We are privileged to supply what we believe to be the finest personal weapon system in the world to the UK MOD.”

Col Paul Cummings, DE&S Dismounted Close Combat Portfolio Leader said, "Project Hunter has been a fabulous example of close collaboration between the user community, Defence Equipment and Support, and industry to deliver game-changing capability at pace. This will deliver improved lethality into the hands of the Army Special Operations Brigade and is the latest in a range of improved capabilities being operated by the new Ranger Battalions. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Edgar Brothers as we move into the production phase."

Also ongoing is the Project Grayburn, which is a program to find the replacement for the British Force's main service rifle, the SA80.


Photo credit: Royal Navy (https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/)

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