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The SAR 21 (Singapore Assault Rifle - 21st Century) is a bullpup assault rifle designed and manufactured in Singapore. First revealed and subsequently adopted by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in 1999, it was designed & developed over a four year period and was intended to replace the locally license-built M16S1 by the Singaporean Ministry of Defence, Singapore Army and the Chartered Industries of Singapore. Many of its design features are directly intended to counter the weaknesses of the M16 as encountered operationally by some infantrymen.

The rifle is being sold for export use aside from domestic use. In the United States, it is being marketed by ST Kinetics via its American subsidiary, VT Systems.
300px-SAR 21 RCF module

The SAR 21 with the attached Round Corner Firing (RCF) module

History and development Edit

Since the mid-90s, the SAF had an outstanding requirement to come up with a replacement for their M16S1 as most of these had been in use since 1973. In 1994, a proposal by SAF was submitted to the MINDEF for options to either procure newer weapons (thought was given to purchase the M16A2) or to develop its own indigenous rifle.[6] A patent was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on November 19, 2002 by Tuck Wah Chee and Felix Tsai with the patent number 6,481,144 B1.[1]

MINDEF officials, after consultations with the SAF, decided against buying weapons off the shelf as it would require soldiers to adjust to the new weapon, choosing instead to develop a weapon, designed and made specifically for ease of use by the conscript soldiers of the SAF, who are mostly of Asian physiques. Coupled with the rising costs of maintaining the M16A1s in SAF's armory, this made it even more justifiable to develop a low-maintenance weapon.

DesignEdit

[1][2]A Singapore Navy Diver seen here with the SAR 21.Made of a rugged, high impact polymer, most of the manufacturing is done utilising CNC machines, with ultrasonic welding for the steel-reinforced receiver halves and the gun barrel being cold hammer forged. It uses a modified Kalashnikov/Stoner operating system, boasting higher reliability and lower recoil.[7] The translucent magazine allows precise assessment of current ammo load.[6]

The SAR 21 is also the first production assault rifle of its class to incorporate a built-in Laser Aiming Device (LAD)[3] (powered by a single "AA" battery) as standard. It has a 5 position switch which can emit a visible beam at high or low power. It can also be set to "steady on" or "momentary on" which is triggered with the use of a pressure switch activated with the user's left thumb.[8] The rifle incorporates various patented safety features, such as a Kevlar cheek plate and overpressure vent that protects the shooter in the event of a chamber explosion or catastrophic failure.[2][9] It also has an integral 1.5x optical scope that is built into its carrying handle. The scope aids in target acquisition, particularly under low light conditions. The scope is factory-zeroed, and requires minimal further zeroing to suit different users.[2][3] This minimizes non-training range time.

OperationEdit

[3][4]Singapore Guardsmen and U.S. Marines examine a SAR-21.Like the M16 rifle, the bolt locks open on an empty magazine. When the magazine is exhausted, it is removed by depressing the AK-style lever. Clearing the weapon is accomplished by removing the magazine, pulling the charging handle to the rear, and observing the chamber. After loading a magazine into the housing, the weapon is made "ready" by cocking the weapon, and engaging the FN MAG-type safety button forward of the trigger guard. The position of the fire selector button (SEMI or AUTO) on the stock may also be adjusted.

The on/off switch for the LAD is located on the left handguard; when holding the weapon at ready, the left thumb rests naturally on it. With sluggish operation due to fouling, the gas regulator setting may be increased by turning it with a coin, screwdriver, or any other thin flat object. Alternatively, the gas regulator can be unlatched and turned by hand with aid of the knurled surface.

VariantsEdit

SAR 21 Light Machine Gun (LMG)Edit

Fitted with an open bolt, it has a heavy 513 mm barrel with an integral folding bipod and a foregrip.

SAR 21 SharpshooterEdit

Same as the basic SAR 21, but has 3.0x optical sight instead of standard 1.5x sight. The sight picture is composed of luminous black paint, allowing easier target engagement at night without use of the LAD.[2]

SAR 21 Grenade Launcher (GL)Edit

Attached with a CIS 40 mm or M203 grenade launcher.[2][8] Several sub-variants/prototypes incorporate different targeting modules (or mounted on p-rails) for grenade target acquisition. Known sights to have been used include aiming quadrants, various optical sights and laser fire control systems.[2]

SAR 21 P-railEdit

Has a Picatinny rail in place of its integral optical sight.[8] Charging handle is moved to the left hand side of the weapon (Interchangeable with right side).[2][8]

SAR 21 Modular Mounting System (MMS)Edit

Has integral optical sight and LAD removed to allow a wide variety of add-on tactical accessories, such as vertical assault grips, tactical lights and reflex sights. Charging handle is moved to the left hand side of the weapon.[8] Similar to P-rail model with exception of shorter barrel.[2][8]

SAR 21 Light Weight CarbineEdit

A light weight SAR 21 variant was revealed during the Asian Defence Exhibition held in conjunction with Asian Aerospace 2006. The variant boasts an ultra-short barrel, shorter handguards and an integral holo-dot aiming recticle. A Picatinny rail is used as well.[2]

RCF moduleEdit

The Round Corner Firing (RCF) module, similar in concept to the CornerShot, can be attached to any of the above SAR 21 variants for conducting operations in an urban environment.[10]

SAR 21AEdit

The prototype was unveiled at the Singapore Air show 2010, this updated variant boasts sturdier thumb selector for ambidextrous control, a 3.2KG unloaded weight, a full built-in Picatinny rail along its length and a Higher Rate of Firing at 900 RPM. Production will begin in 2011.

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