Michael Fabricant today called on the Government to issue the Royal Marines
with the US-made M16 assault rifle to replace the "faulty" SA80-A2 weapon.
Michael Fabricant, Conservative member for Lichfield and joint-chairman of
the all-party Royal Marines Group at Westminster insisted that this should
be done before any further trials of the SA80 were completed. Earlier this
week the Defence Logistics Organisation provoked fury among the Royal
Marines for alleging that the rifles jammed and misfired in Afghanistan
because troops had not cleaned them properly.
Mr Fabricant said: "These armchair pundits at the Ministry of Defence are
not only being grossly insulting to the professionalism of the Royal
Marines, but also appear to have forgotten – if indeed they had any
experience of it – the reality of warfare.
"The SA80 might be suitable for use in the Home Counties but has long been
known to be unreliable in more extreme conditions."
Mr Fabricant said he had fired the SA80 in the Arctic. "After just four
shots the weapon jammed, and it had been cleaned thoroughly beforehand by
He claimed the rifle was vulnerable to cold and to the ingress of dirt.
"Experts say it is unreliable and should not be taken into combat. All Royal
Marines I have spoken to want the M16 without delay. This is a reliable and
trustworthy workhorse, and the Ministry of Defence should let them have it
straight away, rather than waiting until after the trials on the SA80 are
over. This is particularly urgent as the Royal Marines are likely to be
called on for dangerous operational duties in our war against terrorism."