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Singapore drops Ultimax 100 light machine gun for US Colt IAR6940

27th April 2023 - 10:30 GMT | by Chen Chuanren in Singapore

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Here a Singaporean soldier is seen firing Colt’s M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle in a screengrab. (Image: Singapore Army)

The Singapore Army has moved from a locally produced light machine gun to one imported from overseas.

The Singapore Army has picked Colt’s IAR6940 as its new section automatic weapon, and so it will eventually replace the venerable ST Engineering Ultimax 100 that has served the army for more than 30 years.

The selection was revealed in the army work plan video for the last fiscal year.

Singapore’s MINDEF told Shephard: ‘Our army has conducted extensive trials and evaluations of various weapon models as part of continued force modernisation efforts. The Colt Infantry Automatic Rifle has been assessed to be a suitable replacement for the SAW.’

The Colt IAR6940 lost out to the M27 in the USMC IAR programme, which is based on Heckler & Koch’s HK416 with a 16.5in barrel. The IAR6940 follows the M16/M4 upper receiver, but with a 16.1in barrel.

Shephard understands such rifle-based automatic weapons provide suppressive fire with greater accuracy, especially in urban settings. It uses less ammunition, so in turn the gunner can carry less weight. The weapon can also double up as a standard assault rifle.

The Singapore Army has fielded the Ultimax 100 since the weapon was introduced around 1982, and it has received support from local manufacturer ST Engineering.

Although often regarded as having the lightest recoil for a light machine gun, older Ultimax weapons were known to have a magazine catch and jamming issues, though these were fixed on newer Mk 8 variants.

The swap to a foreign-supplied SAW, instead of recapitalising on the Mk.8, does raises eyebrows, however. Nonetheless, it marks a shift in operational mentality for the Singapore Army from area suppression commonly used in open fights, to tighter, precision fire movement.

Chen Chuanren

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Chen Chuanren


Chen Chuanren is Shephard’s Singapore correspondent, covering primarily land and sea systems. He served in …

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