British army plans to replace its L85A3 5.56mm assault rifles from 2025

According to a Tweet published by Nicholas Drummond on August 6, 2021, the British Army plans to replace its L85A3 5.56mm assault rifle from 2025. The US Army’s NGSW (Next Generation Squad Weapons) is likely to influence British army choice in terms of weapon type and caliber.
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British soldiers armed with L85A3 5.56mm caliber bullpup assault rifle. (Picture source British MoD)

The U.S. Army Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW) Program is an iterative, prototyping effort, using Middle Tier Acquisition Authority, to develop operationally relevant, squad-level lethality to combat proliferating threats, informed by U.S. soldier’s feedback.

The NGSW prototyping effort consists of the Rifle (NGSW-R) and Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR) with a common 6.8mm cartridge and Fire Control (NGSW-FC) between the two systems. The effort aims to field to the Close Combat Force (CCF) with the NGSW-R as the planned replacement for the M4A1 assault rifle and the NGSW-AR as the planned replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, gas-operated light machine gun.

The L85 is a variant of the SA80, a British-made 5.56mm NATO caliber bullpup assault rifle which is in service with the British armed forces since 1987. The SA80 family was designed and produced by the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock.

The L85A3 is a variant of the original L85 assault rifle including several new improvements. It entered into service with the British armed forces in 2018.

The L85A3 is a bullpup design assault rifle chambered in 5.56 x 45 mm NATO caliber. New features of the L85A3 include a modified upper receiver with Picatinny rail and a full-length rail system for optional add-ons such as a vertical foregrip, laser pointer and torch. It also includes a weight saving of 100 g and a new Flat Dark Earth coating offering improved durability and better camouflage across various environments.

The L85A3 with the new Picatinny rail systems can be fitted with a 4x magnification scope as well as various red dot or night vision sights. With the scope, the L85A3 has a maximum firing range of 500 m and used 30-round capacity magazines. The lower part at the front of the weapon is also fitted with a Picatinny rail that can mount vertical foregrip, tactical flashlight or laser pointer.

The L85A3 can be also fitted with the German HK AG36 40 mm underbarrel grenade launcher.