It has been announced following a review by Capability Ground Manoeuvre team at Army Headquarters that three platoon weapon systems are to be scrapped.

This article was submitted to the UK Defence Journal by Ieuan Joy, a recent graduate of Aberystwyth in international politics and military history.

The weapon systems to be scrapped are the 60mm mortar, the L110A3 LMG and the LSW.  Speaking to the British Army’s magazine Soldier Major Mark Whitehouse states “this is not a financially driven cull but a review of our capability to ensure we have a battle winning set of optimised set of systems in users hands”.

The LSW is being replaced by the Sharpshooter, the sharpshooter proven effective in combat and in testing can engage targets at precision out to ranges of at least 600 metres. With the LMG Major Anthistle commented that the reason for it’s cull is that when compared to the SA-80 “it is far heavier but less lethal and effective”. Weight was again another factor in the decision to get rid of the 60 mm mortar and that it relatively inaccurate.

While it has not been confirmed what will replace the 60mm mortar it is understood by Nicholas Drummond a Defence Industry consultant that a number of options are being evaluated to supplement platoon level firepower including the SAAB Carl Gustav 84mm anti-tank weapon and a multi shot medium velocity 40mm GL. So far nothing is being reported on if anything will replace the LMG in the light machine gun role at section level leaving the potential for the GPMG to return back to that role.

So far the only confirmed weapon systems at platoon level will be the SA-80 A3 and the Sharpshooter with the 60 mm mortar replacement still being decided. The only thing that is certain is that the way infantry platoons use firepower is once again about to radically change as commanders debate the delicate tactical balance between firepower and manoeuvrability.

55 COMMENTS

  1. to be honest the lsw was crap one was issued to me once when i first joined but you still only got 4 magazines of ammunition which considering as a so called support weapon you do use a lot more than 4 mags of ammo,in the end the decission was made then not to use them,and cannot remember the last time i saw one in my battalion the powers to be were looking at the minimi which is belt fed but nothing came of that not in my battalion while i was serving but i am going back to late 80,s early 90,s..as for the 60 mm mortar it was usefull especially as a night illumination weapon suppose tactics have changed over the years but i would imagine the principle is still the same

    • 60mm is a different beast. It replaced the 51mm mortar. It’s surprising that its going as, although it was apparently not massively accurate on its first round was frequently mentioned as the most effective weapon when Plt Cmdrs were asked.
      New CG , which are significantly lighter, in the M3 version could address the illumination needs. They also can double as anti armour weapons. But the new airburst ammo isn’t cheap, plus you do need a line of sight to the target.
      For my two pennorth the withdrawal of the LSW and Minimi makes sense with GPMG and Sharpshooter providing heavier and longer ranged firepower to platoons. But the 60mm should be retained alongside any new CG purchase, indirect fire has a quality all of its own.

      Hopefully instead of scrapping them we just cover them in grease and stick them in stores…but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      • How long has 60mm been in service ? Think it was bought as UOR for Afghanistan ? Army must have bought over 1,000 so huge waste of money. Will anyone involved get an angry face sticker on their file because of it ?

  2. Great shame the UK isn’t consulting on a replacement personal infantry weapon.

    When you consider the costs involved in current high profile procurement within the MOD, it is a great shame that the interests of the high quality British infantry soldier are not being looked at. These chaps are on the front line of life and death and require a reliable, modern and proven weapon that is easier to dismantle, clean and shoot in all conditions.

    This is a comment for debate and not a direct criticism of the latest variant of the SA80, which is more successful than the MK1 variant that I converted to after the SLR which was a lovely and simplistic weapon system – showing my age!!

    • A new assault rifle is compeltly unneeded. The L83A3 is perfectly fine and saying it needs to be replaced with a gun a little easier to clean is illogical.

      The only time they should consider replacing it when they develop a new standard NATO round. Anything else would be a colloidal waste of money.

      • It’s also overweight and has been since its inception. We have spent millions upgrading it when superior off the shelf options have been available for some time at a fraction of the price.

        • You also can’t point it round right-hand corners from your left shoulder a pretty fundamental flaw so to say it’s ‘perfectly fine’ is rediculous. It could be 30 years before they agree to replace 5.56 as the benefits will be so marginal.

      • have you used an sa80 in anger? I mean properly? because it’s shit. ergonomically it’s a catastrophe. the lads hate it and always will. I never felt like I could rely on it nor the LMG. as soon as sharpshooter came in we got our hands on as many as we could. awesome. just heavy

        LSW have been sat in the armoury since I joined, over a decade ago. god awful piece of kit. the whole sa80 family is shite.

        • Reaper wrote:
          ergonomically it’s a catastrophe.

          The best and most accurate description I have ever heard regards the SA80

          • The M16 would be a good start.

            The SA80 is accurate. Very accurate, but it is a nightmare in terms of ergonomics. You can not fire it left handed. It had big issues for some time with reliability although I think most of those issues are now gone.

            When they bought the SA80 originally the M16 was much cheaper and was being made in the UK!

        • Even back when it was adopted the AUG was already available if the MOD had been dead set on a bullpup. Why they didn’t adopt it I do not know Steyr would have have definitely set up a factory if asked. They did Australia when they adopted it in the late 80s and that was a smaller order than the UKs would have been.
          The SA80 made absolutely no sense it was more expensive than the contemporary M-16 family and FN-FNC for traditional guns and still more expensive, less ergonomic, reliable, or lefty friendly than the AUG when it came to bullpups

      • Based on the fact that no other military/ security services use the SA80, or even our own special forces, police etc. I’d say you don’t know what you’re talking about. A detailed description of its faults is not even necessary when you take even those things in to account. It was an old generation weapon that wasn’t good in the first place, a tied constantly being polished, for what reason? I guess it’s so money hoes in to the right pockets at the fighting soldiers expense, or the great British mentality of we know best!

  3. The RM already use Sharpshooter and have reverted to GPMG I believe. Should be plenty of the latter around to provide a stop gap. Mortar wise I don’t know enough unfortunately.

  4. The 60mm and minimise where both purchased as UORs, because the infantry lacked firepower in actual combat against the enemy.

    Yet again the lessons learnt in war and by blood are lost in peacetime.

  5. “this is not a financially driven cull’
    I would be on board if they had indicated that they would be replacing the LMG and 60mm mortar with new more effective solutions. As it stands, this is nothing more than a phantom cut. Eliminate systems now to avoid having to pay for replacements later. Does anyone actually believe that issuing an infantry platoon with nothing more than assault rifles and a sharpshooter(s) makes any kind of tactical sense?
    Platoon and company level ‘firepower’ lessons relearned in Iraq and Afghanistan out the door to save a few
    pounds. Cut after cut after cut…

    • I was looking at the GPMG and found that incidentally, a M249, whilst a smaller calibre (but still NATO 5.56), is lighter, roughly equivalent range, readily available and relatively cheap. I’m not saying we should run off and buy 2000+ of them but surely it’s worth a look along with other candidates as a relatively urgent requirement.

      • Steve M, You do know the M249 is an Americanised version of the UK’s L110 A3 LMG that is being scrapped, right ?

          • The M249 and LMG are roughly the same. They’re both FN Minimi derivatives. The UK version is the Para version with shorter barrel.

            The US is looking to withdraw the M249 as well. It is also in no way comparable to the GPMG (M240 in US service, FN MAG to everyone else) which is a much more powerful beast, terminal effects and real range are massively different. In Afghan the LMG wasn’t much use beyond 200m, the GPMG is effective out to 1,000m.

    • Graham. This has been in the works for years. 1Lancs did studies on all kinds of improvements to the LMG and LSW but couldnt improve it’s accuracy or reliability. Supressors were the most effective attachment but they can’t tolerate a gunner burning through belts of 5.56 in a firefight. Even a few rounds thought the sniper supressors require them to be rotated so they don’t melt to the barrell.
      I truly do not believe this is about money. This is about lethality and reducing load on a rifleman, beginning with Project Payne.
      The 60mm is not good enough in a fluid environment. Our weapons need to be rapidly deployable. they take too long to mess about with and get on target. a guy with a 6 shot 40mm can pump smoke and HE rapidly onto target.

      not sure about us bringing the gustav back although it’s enjoying a renaissance in the U.S. army. I wouldn’t want to be the guy humping it. LASM are pretty effective and light weight in that role.
      Same goes for NLAW. the boys humping them are in bits during attacks. you’re constantly dragging them along.

      • At least the new ones M3A1/M3E1 in the US, M4 for everyone else had the weight reduced. From 21lbs to 15lbs (9.5kg to 6.6kg)
        Still pretty cumbersome from what I here.

  6. Back to the future it seems as at one time the Carl Gustav 84 mm was the most hated weapon in an infantry platoon, heavy and really cumbersome to carry. In addition, when fired the shock waves on the round leaving the muzzle rolled back hitting the firer like a heavy punch in the nose. if the modern version is anything like its predecessor it certainly wont aid manoeuvrability.

    • My first unit and as the smallest man in the troop, guess who got to lug the bloody thing. Regards the recoil, the loader (The Nbr 2) had to hug the firer during firing in which to alleviate that pressure wave

  7. About time the LSW is going, as weapon system it was always a bit confused. A long barrelled assault rifle meant to be used as an LMG but only issued with standard 30-round mags, making it even heavier than the already heavy L85 but only slightly more effective.

    The loss of the mortar is disappointing, but based on the options they’re reviewing to replace it, the aim seems to be to make infantry sections more mobile, which is a concept I can get behind as long as it doesn’t leave troops I’ll equipped.

    When it comes to the Minimi, is it SPECIFICALLY the L110A3 variant that’s going, or is it all variants in service? We did have two variants in service, the standard L108A2 and the para L110A3, with small numbers of the 7.62mm version having also being procured.

  8. I’d previously read elsewhere that the minimi proved to be very innacurate in recent conflicts and a number of attempts to retire it had been made, resisted, but looks like finally made. Also lsw does seem illogical in the role. I also read a really good piece on the higher accuracy and lethality of an intermediate round between 5.56 and 7.62. When the US agrees on such a new round then presumably rest of NATO will follow and L85a3 will be retired. Apparently Carl Gustav 84s are heavy but have multiple types of ordnance from illumination to bunker busting to armour piercing so augmented with small vehicles could dramatically improve small unit firepower and versatility. My own inexpert view is well done the MoD for making the decision. Proviso, unit firepower is uplifted in other ways.

  9. It’s all about range. Shorter barrel 5.56 can do 400m, long barrel with bipod can do 800m. 7.62 long barrel can go further, 8.58mm much further. 40×46 can do 400m, 40×51 is 800 and 40×53 is heavy tripod only. There is the Pike 40mm lazer guided missile out to 2km. 60mm mortar can do out to 4km. The old 7kg MILAN could do 3km but from a 22kg launcher. The 10kg FIM Stinger goes 8km but also a heavy launcher.

    So what range do we want? The Aras Shrike 5.56 has a quick change barrel like the GPMG and can take belt and mag in the field. Perhaps these are the features we need on our rifles and machine guns so troops can choose what they need in either 5.56 or 8.58 to match the sniper rifle calibre. For support weapons I would have the 40×51 for all, the Pike 40, the 60mm mortar and a new smaller MILAN of about 4kg with lazer guidance to shoulder launch from a 60mm tube instead of Javelin.

    • The mortar decision is a strange one. I read the LMG was proven to be completely ineffective due to its inaccuracy, but mortars on the other hand are used a lot to great success.

      Yes MILAN or javelin are options, but way more expensive and so not really suitable for routine use.

      I wonder what the thinking was behind the retiring of the mortars.

  10. For me a stealth cut that does not provoke public reaction over scrapping much loved cap badges.

    If it is not then in due course replacement equipment will be sought If not. A cut.

  11. The LSW being replaced by the L129A1 Sharpshooter rifle seems a reasonable and expected move. The LSW is reasonably accurate out to intermediate ranges but is heavy and packs a relatively inadequate punch for the role IMO. The L129A1 is a reliable and accurate weapon firing a capable round (7.62×51) out to a practical range well in excess of 600m. Getting rid of the LMG also seems to be a wise move. It never made sense to me to introduce a LMG with a barrel length considerably less than the barrel on the L85A2 (as it was then). Especially true of weapons firing the 5.56×45 which depends considerably on velocity to increased lethality. The introduction of a 5.56mm LMG with a 14.5inch barrel effectively meant that rounds sent down range from a LMG gunner were less accurate and lethal than rounds fired by the riflemans L85A2 with its 20inch barrel. Just odd. I understand that limited 18.5inch barrels were purchased to replace the shorter versions and used operationally. However the improvement in accuracy and lethality were judged to have been less than was hoped and so a large scale replacement of barrels was abandoned. The decision to replace the whole system was inevitable after this i feel. Hopefully its replacement is to be the GPMG back at section level as standard regardless of ammunition complications. The decision to replace the 60mm mortar is less understandable i think. Its not an ideal system for sure. Its not as accurate as it could be certainly and its heavy. Replacing it with a 6 shot 40mm grenade launcher with a 5th of the range at best (800m with enhanced rounds compared to 3800m) seems am little short sighted unless a complete change to overall infantry tactics is on the cards, which i suspect is the case.

  12. The L86 A2 isn’t going through the A3 rebuild program. So it’s gate was already sealed in effect.

    A disappointing LMG’ at best, most have seen little device since upgrade to A2, as the L10A2/A3 came into service instead in quantity.

    They will likely be reduced to parts to support the A2’s and the A3, plus a further batch of Carbines perhaps..

    As for the replacement argument, well I would replace it with the USMC issued M27, its about as close to perfection as far as a service rifle goes…. It would be my choice.

    However, some considerable investment had gone into the A3 rebuild program, so the SA80 is going nowhere guys!

    Not for the foreseeable future anyway.

  13. Short sighted capability gaps & cuts covered by spin. Proud to be world leaders in Spin.

    If there’s nothing immediatly available to replace, as in the case of the 60mm morter, it’s a loss of capability

  14. Even less firepower for the British army.

    The army is increasingly combat ineffective due to lack of firepower. it lacks everything from GBAD to mortars. Soldiers then end up using javelins to take out trench positions and they wonder why there is a Budget crisis.

  15. Bring back the old 303 lee Enfield. Could knock a pimple off a gnats left knacker at a mile. A real soldiers weapon!!

  16. As an ex gunner I am not expert in infantry warfare, but I’ve completed tours in NI and Dhofar plus an instructors course at the School of Infantry Warminister.

    When you come into contact with the enemy use need overwhelming firepower to defeat the opposition and minimise your own casualties.

    I cannot see how getting rid of weapons that were urgently required for Iraq and Afghanistan can now be declared redundant without adequate replacement.

    The GPMG in my opinion is not a suitable replacement for the L110, given the extra weight of the weapon and ammunition. Rather have a infantry section with a couple of L110 than one GPMG.

    Carl Gustav has gone though many reincarnations, I understand the latest version is significantly lighter that the original version as its made from carbon fibre rather steel. Never had the pleasure of firing one except a training sub calibre one, a 6.5mm round I recall. Did fire several 66mm LAWs which was good, so light and portable and just throw it away afterwards.

    • In a fight give me a GPMG every day of the week! Bastard to carry but worth its weight when it’s really needed.

  17. I see the Carl Gustoff is making a come back great till you got to carry it all 36 pounds !! Plus ammo is massive and sharp shooter modern day SLR why don’t they just bring back the BREN gun/LMG cover the sharp shooter and LMG role

  18. I see the Carl Gustoff is making a come back great till you got to carry it all 36 pounds unless it’s been made lighter !! Plus ammo is massive and sharp shooter modern day SLR why don’t they just bring back the BREN gun/LMG cover the sharp shooter and LMG role

  19. I would like see Infantry squad use these

    Standard Fireteam: (4 men, 2x – 8 men etc)
    Main weapon
    Sa80 #2x New service rifle like usa iar (with new round 6.5mm or bring back british .280) with ugl, 6x acog scope
    Lmg replacement #1x new same service rifle (see Adove) with c-mag drum it can act as lmg or switch regular mag save money and easy covert it to instant just about change mag even with for all 3x new service rifle like usa replace it as iar rifle.
    #1x L129A1 DMR sharpshooter with 8x Acog scope and get it convert to .338 round DMR version
    1x L129A1 shotgun for point man (in 8 men) with new service rifle iar back up

    Support weapon
    #, 25mm multiple smart grenade launcher for Infantry
    #, NLAW for anti tank (light)
    #, Javelin for anti tank (heavy) or maybe replace with light version like mmp?
    #, Starstreak 2 for (anti air)
    Replace L2a1 and 60mm mortar with #, Carl Gustav Mk. 4 for ASM to replace 60mm mortar and our current recently acquired ASM L2a1 as Carl Gustav Mk 4 can use repeat and can use many kind of warhead include flare and frag even light guide missile etc rather L2a1 fire single shot and throw away, it is more flexible we was use mk.1 and replace it with law which is bad move but make sense as mk. 1 is very very heavy over 14kg and new one is under 7kg
    #l119a3 long range sniper rifle

    Note: #new gpmg with .338 rounds for base defence and vehicle remote platform
    And replace platform 40mm grenade launcher with 40mm smart grenade version to keep control explosion to avoid mistake

    That will good replacement old weapon and most of it flexibility and high efficiency for all type mission

    Imagine with new service rifle iar and bring back with modern Carl Gustav Mk. 4 they can use near every type mission it is make sense. They can destory to from Infantry and structures to medium vehicle ((maybe mbt if right area to shot ie track to disabled it,)) Even helicopter if it is hover.

  20. Also i forget mention deep about mmp, they is good canadiate to replace javelin as they are same as them even more smart option it is can shot in nlos mode and they can use helicopter and vehicles which could help reduce cost if use wholes plaftom use one weapon.

  21. We bought the Minimi because the US were using it and there are Regts in the army that would use a painted broomhandle if they saw an American using it. Nothing has changed and they’re still there.

  22. In a fight give me a GPMG every day of the week! Bastard to carry but worth its weight when it’s really needed.

  23. Major Mark Whitehouse states “this is not a financially driven cull but a review of our capability to ensure we have a battle winning set of optimised set of systems in users hands” obviously been on his Common Purpose Newspeak course

    • Major Mark. Shouldn’t it be someone a little more senior announcing a cut? Sounds like this was the most senior soldier that was willing to talk to the media and talking about what he was told and probably has no idea on why the decision was really made.

  24. A traditional 7.62 rifle is a real knockdown but add a 9mm side arm or m/c pistol to each soldier and maybe you have the answer.

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