There have been some significant changes to the British Army’s small arms load out in recent months with the announcement that the long mooted removal of the FN Minimi, 60mm Mortar and L86 Light Support Weapon from service was official. The British Army is now moving to rebalance its infantry weapons at the section level.
In recent weeks since the changes a new weapon line up has been under testing at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon, Wales. Heralded as a simplification which increases small unit flexibility. The September issue of Soldier, the British Army’s official magazine, sheds some light on how platoons will be equipped now that the Minimi/L110A3 has been dropped. The 8 man infantry section will now be equipped with 1 general purpose machine gun (the 7.62x51mm L7A2 /FN MAG), 1 L129A1 7.62x51mm Sharpshooter Rifle, 2 L85A2 or A3’s with underslung L123A1 40mm grenade launcher (the AG SA80, an adaptation of Heckler & Koch’s AG36) and 4 standard L85A2 or A3 rifles.
Depending on mission parameters section commanders can choose to substitute the GPMG with another rifleman. Major David Crimmins, commanding officer of the Junior Division at the Infantry Battle School explained that:
previously, personnel would have been handed a set line-up with the various firearms deployed in a fixed order, now they will be able to make that assessment themselves. Effectively they are being given a toolkit to use as they wish and the troops have taken to this positively – even to the extent that they feel more valued.
Training at the Infantry Battle School is endeavouring to teach troops how best to employ their new weapon set, with the 7.62x51mm L129 sharpshooter rifle and the L7 GPMG able to reach out further than the rest of the section’s 5.56x45mm weapons, but less useful in close combat situations.
It was also recently announced that the British Army would be refinishing many of its infantry weapons with flat dark earth cerakote to better match its multi-terrain pattern uniforms. This will be in line with the L85A3’s new two-tone flat dark earth finish.