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Britain’s Commandos to get new assault rifles

7 September 2023
Britain’s elite Royal Marine Commando Forces will be stealthier and deadlier thanks to a new assault rifle.

The Knight’s Stoner 1 (KS-1) rifle (designated L403A1) headlines a host of new kit additions for the UK Commando Forces in ‘lead strike teams’ – those responsible for raiding and amphibious operations worldwide.

More than a thousand of the new rifles have been bought from US producers Knight’s Armament Company and come with advanced optical and thermal sights as well as suppressor (silencer) systems to make Commandos harder to trace and more formidable in combat.

The Commando Force regularly deploys around the globe in all extremes of environment – arctic, desert and jungle – reacting to crises and conducting a range of complex operations, including counter piracy and terrorism, drugs busts and humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

It means there is a need to put top-end kit in the hands of these specialist warriors to give them the upper hand on the battlefield.

A new rifle, night vision goggles, tactical communications systems, battlefield vehicles and ‘survivability systems’, including new helmets, communications and suppressors which make the force more difficult to detect, are to be rolled out as the Royal Navy makes an initial investment in new kit for its elite, very high readiness fighting force, with plans for a longer-term procurement programme from 2024.

Captain Nick Unwin RN, Commando Force Programme Director, said: “Delivery of quality equipment such as we see today is a genuine increase in capability and capacity for the UK’s Commando Force Strike Teams and offers significant tactical advantage to the user.

“The Commando Force Programme is delivering change across all areas of amphibious operations; this is just one small part of the wider change programme we are all embarked upon as we adjust to evolving threats and challenges.”

Alongside this new rifle and a new helmet made by Gentex, Commando Forces will take delivery of the new Fused Binocular Night Vision Device produced by L3Harris, giving them a significant advantage over their adversaries in night-time littoral operations, or as they move in darkness through confined spaces during boarding operations.

Again, more than a thousand have been procured and the systems feature advanced low-light image intensification with a fused thermal input – which means the devices include both night vision and thermal sensor superimposed into a single image for the operator – that far outperforms older systems currently used by the UK’s Armed Forces.

Commando Forces are also exploring how to use the night vision kit alongside digital communications systems, providing a live feed to the goggles to help commanders assess the battlefield and make decisions.

Meanwhile, advances are being made with upgrades to the Sharpshooter rifle.

The Lewis Machine and Tool L129A2 rifle is an improvement on the well-established Sharpshooter with new Leupold scopes and HuxWrx suppressors, making it more accurate and quieter.

It is also equipped with an Envision Technology ballistic calculator and a Pixels-on-Target thermal sight. Each Commando Strike Team will comprise two designated expert shooters equipped with these upgraded rifles.

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