There was a flurry of news this week about the MoD considering extending the service of the SA80, with a handful of images reportedly showing prototypes of the A3 model.
The images were released by the MoD as part of DVD2016 coverage, specifically on the Virtus contract for soldier equipment.
What this flurry of news seemed to have missed is the MoD letting a £2.7 million contract to Heckler and Koch GMBH & Co for work on the SA80A2.
The Dismounted Close Combat Programme team, part of the UK Ministry of Defence, intends to place a contract for the Equipped to Fight Improvement (EFI) programme for the modification of 5 000 SA80 weapons with Heckler & Koch GMBH & Co for work to be completed by March 2017. The estimated contract value is 2 700 000 GBP. The contract will require the supplier to modify the existing SA80 A2 weapon by fitting a combination of new and modified components. Specific tolerances of materials are needed along with exact dimensions and surface finishes on the components to allow for interoperability with the existing system, particularly when managing the variable interface caused by differing rates of wear of existing components which are recycled as part of the programme. There are very high risks involved in managing the variable tolerances and manufacturing processes when combining new and existing weapon components.
A replacement for the much, and probably unfairly, maligned SA80 is usually the subject of much debate but despite France only recently selecting the HK416 to replace the FAMAS, I get the impression the SA80 is not going anywhere fast.