War profiteer profile: Accuracy International

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An Accuracy International sniper rifle
An Accuracy International AXMC long range sniper rifle. Photo credit: Rex Allen via Unsplash

Accuracy International is a British company based in Portsmouth, specialising in the production of high-end, hand built, precision sniper rifles and associated equipment. The company was founded in 1978 by professional sports shooters, but the weapons are now used around the world by military and police units. In 2017 the company was reported to have around 80 employees.

Weapons manufactured by AI were used in 2009 by British soldiers to kill two Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, at a record-breaking distance of 2,475 meters. The weapons have also been used extensively in other conflict zones, including states accused of human rights abuses.

As well as the British company, Accuracy International also has an American division, which manages distribution in the USA. In 2014 the company was present at the Urban Shield arms expo targetted towards police units from across the world.

AI Arctic Warfare

The AI Arctic Warfare is a bolt-action sniper rifle introduced in the 1980s, and designed for use in extremely cold conditions, but has been used extensively around the world, including a number of NATO member states, Azerbaijan, Bandladesh, Indonesia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Sri Lanka, among others.

Uses around the world

In October 2020 the investigative reporting website Bellingcat published a report on the use of Accuracy International weapons around the world. The evidence collected by Bellingcat used information from Campaign Against Arms Trade, Freedom of Information requests and geolocation and facial recognition technology to identify:

  • Arctic Warfare rifles appear to have been used by Saudi forces operating in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has been heavily critcised for human rights abuses in Yemen.

  • AI sniper rifles being used by Turkish forces in Afrin in Syria in 2018, in an operation that was condemned by Human Rights Watch as having “failed to take necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties”.

  • The use of AI sniper rifles by Russian forces in Ukraine, including Crimea, in 2017, and in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

A sniper rifle which appears to have been manufactured by Accuracy International has been identified in use by Syrian special forces in 2015, with some experts speculating that the weapon may have been transferred from Russian to Syrian forces.

Accuracy International weapons are known to be used by the Indonesian forces involved in the “Damai Cartenz” operation in West Papua. Reporting by Rory James in 2023 identifies a series of posts on Instagram by Indonesian soldiers holding AI weapons have tagged conflict hotspots in the central highlands of West Papua. A post on the official Instagram accounts for the Yonif Raiders – an Indonesian unit notorious for human rights abuses – states that members of the unit are being trained with AI weapons, including practising “techniques for executing targets”.

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Police militarisation theme

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