The British Army has dropped the 5.56mm x 45mm Light Machine Gun (LMG) from the infantry section, pending confirmation from the Army Headquarters later in the year, a senior source has disclosed.
Addressing delegates at the Future Soldier Technology conference in London on 13 March, Lt.Col. Nick Serle, Commanding Officer of the British Army’s Infantry Trials and Development Unit (ITDU) explained how the LMG was being replaced with an L85A2 or A3 assault rifle, also in 5.56x45mm calibre. The news follows consideration of multiple methods to suppress targets in a firefight over the past two years.
The idea to drop the LMG was first disclosed by army officials at the Soldier Equipment and Technology Advancement Forum (SETAF) in London on 14 March 2016, with sources describing the consideration of, “precision versus suppression.”
The LMG, manufactured by FN Herstal as the MINIMI, has been in service with the British Army at section level for more than a decade as a fire support weapon. However, Lt.Col. Serle explained how the army had taken the decision to drop it from the armoury with a, "heavy heart."
"We want to reduce the burden and there are better ways to provide suppression through precision," he explained while referring to its maximum effective range of just 250 metres. According to FN Herstal documents, the MINIMI has a maximum effective range of 400 metres.
Lt.Col. Serle did confirm however that the 7.62x51mm General Purpose Machine Gun would be retained for fire support at the platoon level.
Meanwhile, Lt.Col. Serle also described the army’s appetite to field a next-generation optical weapon sight for the dismounted close combat (DCC) community, featuring an integrated fire control system; image recognition software; and coincidence firing capability for the, “precise application of lethal force,” he explained to delegates.