European Special Operations Forces (SOF) are set to assess Knight Armaments’ evolution of the Stoner Light Machine Gun (LMG), designed to provide an even more mobile and lightweight weapon system for airborne forces.
According to industry sources, speaking to Monch at the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS) at Camp de Souge, France on 30th March, force elements from the French Special Operations Command and Danish Special Operations Command have scheduled an evaluation programme for the weapon system later in 2017.
The Stoner XLMG, which is available in NATO Standard 5.56mm x 45mm calibre, represents a 2kg weight saving over legacy models (including FN Herstal’s Mimimi LMG) providing operators with a more streamlined solution suitable for close quarter battle and military operations in urban terrain as well as parachute insertion.
Sources explained to Monch how force components from the Commandement des Forces Speciales Terre (CFST) or Land Component Special Forces Command were looking to conduct an evaluation of the weapon system. An operational assessment team from 1 Regiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine (1 RPIMA) or Airborne Marine Infantry Regiment and 13 Regiment de Dragons Parachutistes (13 RDP) or Airborne Dragon Regiment will consider the technology during environmental, accuracy and reliability trials, sources confirmed.
According to French Special Operations Command officials, 1 RPIMA is tasked with “deep special operations against high value targets; intelligence collection for direct action; military assistance including foreign liaison, key leader engagements in crisis environments and close protection; and finally, provision of the Counter-Terrorism Centre of Excellence including hostage rescue operations.
The 13 RDP can be tasked with “intelligence collections for direct action and post operational exploitation including sensitive site exploitation; overt and covert intelligence collection; and operational preparation of the environment,” official sources added.
Additionally, force elements from the Danish Special Operations Command are understood to have begun a test programme of the XLMG, although sources were unable to confirm whether it was for the army’s Jaegercorps or navy’s Frogman Corps force components.
According to Knight’s Armament, the Stoner LMG comprises 89.54 cm in length with option for a retractable stock for parachute operations and CQB. The weapon includes a 31.75cm barrel providing a maximum effective range of 600m.
“Eliminating the need for a bolt buffer mitigates recoil effect common to machine guns, as there is no impact of the bolt on the end of its stroke, making the gun very easy to control – even in long bursts,” a company spokesperson explained.
“The LMG features a hybrid modular fore-end and an underslung mounting slot for accepting standard and improved 5.56 mm belted ammunition containers. The LMG is extremely accurate due to the secure mounting of the quick change barrel and the reduced length feed cover design, which accommodates loading and unloading without disturbing the zero of rearward mounted optics or sights,” it was concluded.
Neither the French Special Operations Command nor the Danish Special Operations Command were available to comment on the assessment.