for the SA80...in my daily perusals of the broadsheets, I came across this: Army to scrap 'unreliable' SA-80 rifle By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent (Filed: 11/08/2002) The SA-80, the Army's much-maligned assault rifle which failed repeatedly during operations in Afghanistan, is to be scrapped, The Telegraph can reveal. Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, has decided that the weapon should be withdrawn from service in four years' time following complaints that it jammed and misfired in dusty desert conditions. The decision is a highly embarrassing U-turn for the Ministry of Defence, which has previously insisted that there are no problems with the weapon. Officials have blamed its failures in the field on soldiers' inadequate cleaning of the rifle. The MoD is attempting to defend its position by saying that it had always planned to replace the rifle in 2008 and is merely bringing that date forward because there is a "confidence" problem with the rifle. One senior officer, however, described the MoD's position as a damaging fudge. "Either this weapon is good enough for British troops or it isn't," he said. "If it is, then keep it in service: if it isn't, then scrap it now. This halfway house approach doesn't do anybody any good. What kind of message does it send out to the troops?" The decision also calls into question Mr Hoon's decision in June 2000 to spend £92 million upgrading the original SA-80, which had been beset with problems since it entered service in 1988, rather than replacing it with a different weapon with an established reliability record. The main failings of the SA-80, which was modified more than 100 times, were that it could not be fired in the left-handed position otherwise ejected rounds hit the firer in the face; it was difficult to maintain in adverse weather conditions and the magazine fell out of the rifle when carried against the body. Most of those faults have since been corrected, although it still cannot be fired in the left-handed position. A report due to be published this week will state that although improved, the new upgraded SA-80 A2 is still unreliable in dusty conditions and fails to fire properly at altitude. The report was drawn up by troops from the Defence Logistics Organisation and a team from Heckler and Koch, who carried out the upgrade, after Royal Marines based in Afghanistan complained that it jammed during operations. The investigating team conducted a number of trials in "operational" conditions. Although the report states that when cleaned properly it is a "reliable weapon" it adds that the SA-80 A2 tended to fail at altitudes above 10,000ft and suffered in dusty conditions. A senior defence official conceded: "A decision has been taken to take it out of service two years early. Admittedly, the rifle does have a few problems but no weapon is perfect and this is probably as good as anything around at the moment. There is a confidence problem with it." Although the new replacement date is four years away, the MoD will soon begin a series of trials to see which weapon should replace it. A defence official added: "The SA-80 was a weapon designed by committee. It was meant to be all things to all people and it had to be British-built - but in the end it was almost a disaster. We won't make that mistake again. The next rifle will be the best available."