Letter to the Chairman of the Committee
from the Secretary of State for Defence (12 November 2001)
Lord Gilbert wrote to you in June 1998 setting
out our plans to address a number of problems with the reliability
of the SA80 Weapon System.
I am pleased to report that the modified SA80
Weapon System has successfully passed a stringent and demanding
testing and acceptance regime, established as part of the programme
to improve the overall reliability of both the Individual Weapon
and Light Support Weapon. The work to modify the weapons is being
undertaken by Heckler & Koch, Germany (a British owned company,
part of BAE Systems, Royal Ordnance Weapons and Munitions) supported
by their sub-contractor the Army Base Repair Organisation, Donnington.
The modifications include new 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, barrel extension and
a new barrel for the LSW.
The Table below summarises the performance results
of both the IW and LSW following trials in Alaska, Brunei, Kuwait
and the UK (Warminster). The Trials were conducted using ammunition
manufactured by Royal Ordnance Radway Green.
||Rounds Fired||BFMs Fired
|Brunei IW |
|Kuwait IW |
|Warminster IW |
|Overall IW |
The reliability requirement contracted for in the modification
programme was 90 per cent for the IW and 70 per cent for the LSW
against their respective BFM's. The Weapons for the trials were
drawn from the production line at H & K and you can see comfortably
exceeded the minimum reliability requirement.
The programme is well underway now and some 12,000 weapons
have been modified, with a further 3,000 to be delivered this
month. We intend to commence formal issue of the modified weapons
to service Users in February next year. Part of this plan includes
the initial concentration of a pool of weapons as a contingency
reserve, should they be needed for operations. In light of the
events of 11 September, measures have been taken to ensure that
the converted weapons can be delivered to those units that might
need them, in the required timeframe.
The modification programme also embraced work to allow the
SA80 Weapon System to be considered for re-admission to the NATO
Nominated Weapons List. The first part of the Trials in the UK
has been successfully concluded and the Weapons will now go forward
to the final set of trials in the USA later this year. If all
goes well we will be seeking to re-instate the weapon on the NATO
Nominated list in Spring 2002. I will write again to let you know