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ST Engineering Debuts Ultimax 100 Mk 9 Light Machine Gun at Singapore Airshow 2024

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ST Engineering Debuts Ultimax 100 Mk 9 Light Machine Gun at Singapore Airshow 2024

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ST Engineering Debuts Ultimax 100 Mk 9 Light Machine Gun at Singapore Airshow 2024
ST Engineering Debuts Ultimax 100 Mk 9 Light Machine Gun at Singapore Airshow 2024

Singapore-based defense company ST Engineering has introduced the latest iteration of its Ultimax 100 series, the Ultimax 100 Mk 9, at the ongoing Singapore Airshow 2024 defense exhibition. This upgraded variant showcases a dual-feed capability, allowing it to accept 5.56 mm rounds from both NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG)-compliant 30-round box and 100-round drum magazines, as well as ammunition belts. With a focus on enhancing versatility and firepower, the Ultimax 100 Mk 9 maintains an accuracy rate comparable to standard assault rifles while achieving a higher firing rate. Employing a gas-operated automatic mechanism with a short-stroke gas piston system, this light machine gun features a rotating bolt with seven locking lugs and fires from an open bolt position. Notably, its “constant recoil” principle minimizes recoil, distinguishing it from similar weapons in its class.

Weighing approximately 6 kg and boasting a barrel length of 457 mm, the Ultimax 100 Mk 9 offers a rifling twist rate of 1 in 178 mm (1 in 7 inch) and a total length ranging from 950 to 1,030 mm, depending on the butt-stock configuration. While the Ultimax series has gained recognition for its accuracy and lightweight design, previous models faced limitations in widespread adoption due to issues with the feed system. The original Ultimax 100 was optimized for a drum magazine holding 100 rounds, which proved cumbersome to reload and occupied more space compared to alternative magazine types. An unusual feature among modern machine guns is the fact the Ultimax was purposely designed to feed from magazines as opposed to belts.

Ultimax 100 Mk 9 Light Machine Gun (Photo by ST Engineering)
Ultimax 100 Mk 9 Light Machine Gun (Photo by ST Engineering)

The machine gun feeds from a proprietary 100-round synthetic drum magazine or from a modified 20 or 30-round STANAG 4179 magazine (from the M16 rifle). Widespread adoption of the design might have been compromised by its feed system. The original Ultimax 100 was meant to be used with a drum magazine holding 100 rounds. The drum magazine was bulky and difficult to reload without a special mechanism. The shape of the drum magazine also occupied more space compared to M16 magazines or the FN Minimi box holding a belt of 200 rounds. The machine gunner also could not take magazines from other squad members who were equipped with M16s.

Developed by Chartered Industries of Singapore (now ST Kinetics) with guidance from American firearms designer L. James Sullivan, the Ultimax 100 has evolved through various iterations, with the Mk 9 representing the latest advancement. Widely utilized by armed forces in Singapore, Croatia, and the Philippines, the Ultimax 100 continues to serve as a reliable support arm, known colloquially as the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) among soldiers in the Singapore Armed Forces. The weapon is extremely accurate due to its constant-recoil operating system and is one of the lightest machine guns in the world. With its low-felt recoil, it offers enhanced controllability, enabling highly accurate suppressive fire while conserving ammunition.

Ultimax 100 Mk 9 Light Machine Gun (Photo by ST Engineering)
Ultimax 100 Mk 9 Light Machine Gun (Photo by ST Engineering)

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