Singapore to Replace Ultimax with the Colt IAR

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
Colt IAR selected by Singapore (Singapore Army)

In a surprising move, it appears that Singapore’s Army may have selected the Colt IAR as its new squad/section automatic weapon, replacing the ST Kinetics Ultimax 100. The news comes from a 10-minute video shared on the Singapore Army’s ‘OurSingaporeArmy’ YouTube channel, an official social media outlet for Singapore’s Army.

Colt IAR selected by Singapore (Singapore Army)

The video includes a brief segment showing the Colt Infantry Automatic Rifle 6940 at the range, with the caption: “Strengthening Tactical Capabilities – New Section Automatic Weapon” – no other details are provided in the video.

The selection may seem a somewhat retrograde step as the Ultimax 100 is regarded as one of the most controllable light machine guns available and has been in Singaporean service for nearly 40 years. Designed by James Sullivan it uses a patented counter recoil mechanism that makes the Ultimax 100 extremely manageable when fired fully automatic. The Ultimax feeds from either a 100-round drum magazine or 30-round STANAG magazines. The move away from the Ultimax 100 MK2 might have made more sense if the Singapore Army had selected a belt-fed replacement but the Colt IAR feeds from 30-round STANAG magazines. Singapore’s bullpup service rifle, the SAR 21, uses a proprietary box magazine.

Colt IAR selected by Singapore (Singapore Army)

The Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) told Janes that “as part of continued force modernisation efforts, our army has conducted extensive trials and evaluations of various weapon models. The Colt IAR6940 has been assessed to be a suitable replacement for the SAW.” It seems that for the Singapore Army accuracy beats weight of fire when it comes to their doctrine for suppression.

Below is the video featuring brief clips of the IAR being fired on a Singapore Army range:

The Colt IAR was developed in 2008 for the US Marine Corps’ infantry automatic rifle requirement and is based on the M16 family of weapons using the Stoner internal gas piston system along with a heavier profile 16.1-inch barrel and new stock, buffer and lower handguard. The USMC issued developmental contracts to Colt Defense, FN Manufacturing Inc and Heckler & Koch. The HK416 won the contract and was adopted as the M27 (and later the M38). Since then the Colt IAR has been sold to a number of military and law enforcement in a number of countries.

Details on how many Singapore intends to procure or when the weapons will begin to be delivered have not been made public but it seems that Colt’s IAR will have a new lease of life with the Singaporean Army.

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: TheFirearmBlog.com & Overt Defense.com. Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at: matt@thefirearmblog.com

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  • Warren Ellis Warren Ellis on May 11, 2023

    From what one former member of the Singaporean military said, apparently the Singaporean military never really taught its conscripts to actually shoot long enough bursts to take advantage of the Ultimax's recoil system, and, in his experience at least, most SAW gunners never used the drum magazines and instead carried a bunch of ready magazines.

    So it sounds like the military there wasn't really using the good features of the Ultimax anyways.

    • Owl Owl on May 14, 2023

      @Warren Ellis Which is a pity IMO. It is one of the weapons that I know that you write SOP around rather than have it fit the SOP because the capabilities and characteristics of the weapon were so out of the envelop that you had to design your tactics around the weapon to make the best use of it.

  • Michael Anthony Michael Anthony on May 12, 2023

    The Colt IAR? What year is it?!

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