ROYAL Marines from Norton Manor Camp-based 40 Commando will be "stealthier and deadlier" thanks to a new assault rifle.

The Knight’s Stoner 1 (KS-1) rifle headlines a host of additions for UK Commando forces in ‘lead strike teams’ carrying out raids and amphibious operations worldwide.

More than 1,000 of the rifles have been bought from US producers Knight’s Armament Company and feature advanced optical and thermal sights with suppressor (silencer) systems making Commandos harder to trace and more formidable in combat.

The Commandos regularly deploy around the globe in all extremes of environment, reacting to crises and conducting complex operations, including counter piracy and terrorism, drugs busts and humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

It means there is a need to equip them with top-end kit to give them an advantage on the battlefield.

A new rifle, night vision goggles, tactical communications systems, battlefield vehicles and ‘survivability systems’, including new helmets, communications and suppressors which make the force more difficult to detect, are to be rolled out as the Royal Navy makes an initial investment in new kit for its very high readiness fighting force, with plans for a longer-term procurement programme from 2024.

Captain Nick Unwin, Commando Force programme director, said: “Delivery of quality equipment such as we see today is a genuine increase in capability and capacity for the UK’s Commando Force Strike Teams and offers significant tactical advantage to the user.

“The Commando Force Programme is delivering change across all areas of amphibious operations; this is just one small part of the wider change programme we are all embarked upon as we adjust to evolving threats and challenges.”

Alongside the new rifles and helmets made by Gentex, Commando Forces will take delivery of the new Fused Binocular Night Vision Device produced by L3Harris, offering a significant advantage over the enemy in night-time operations and in darkness through confined spaces during boarding operations.

The systems feature advanced low-light image intensification with a fused thermal input – which means the devices include both night vision and thermal sensor superimposed into a single image for the operator – that far outperform older systems currently used by the UK’s Armed Forces.

Commando Forces are also exploring how to use the night vision kit alongside digital communications systems, providing a live feed to the goggles to help commanders assess the battlefield and make decisions.

Meanwhile, the Lewis Machine and Tool L129A2 rifle is an improvement on the well-established Sharpshooter with new Leupold scopes and HuxWrx suppressors, making it more accurate and quieter.

It is also equipped with an Envision Technology ballistic calculator and a Pixels-on-Target thermal sight. Each Commando Strike Team will comprise two designated expert shooters equipped with these upgraded rifles.