New rifles are to be supplied to British troops deployed in Afghanistan, it emerged on January 17th 2009. This marks the first issue of new infantry rifles to members of the British armed forces for two decades, and represents part of a wider directive to re-arm elements of the UK military. Under the terms of the new deal, over 400 Sharpshooter Rifles will be provided. These rifles fire 7.62 millimetre rounds, and they will be in the hands of Afghan-based British service personnel before the end of 2010.
“Troops in Afghanistan are already bristling with a variety of weapons they can use when fighting the Taliban”, UK Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, stated. “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.”
British Army: Sharpshooter Rifles
While one British Army representative added that Afghan-deployed troops were keen to start using the Sharpshooter rifles, separately, an unnamed official highlighted another aspect of the purchase. “The MoD is only ordering just over 400”, he said. “There are going to be so few of these rifles that they will be handed out like a job-share.”
News of the Sharpshooter rifles provision came just days after it was announced that new bomb-disposal robots were being used by the British Army in Afghanistan to counter the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices, such as roadside bombs.
British Army Weapons
In combat operations, the Sharpshooter will boost accuracy in fire fights carried out over a wide area (in other words, not close-range). It will join a whole host of British Army weapons already being drawn upon by troops in this part of the world, including SA80A2 assault rifles, Light Machine Guns, General Purpose Machine Guns, Snipers and Javelin Weapons Systems.
“The Sharpshooter rifle is very capable and has been bought to fulfil a specific role on the frontline in Afghanistan”, Defence Equipment and Support Light Weapons, Photographic and Batteries Team Leader, Colonel Peter Warden, stressed. “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.”