The Army just got closer to ditching the M4 and SAW for a ‘next-generation’ weapon
By: Christian Lowe 21 hours ago
The Army announced Aug. 29 that it has selected three companies to develop prototype weapons it says will make ground pounders more lethal in future battles.
Dubbed the Next-Generation Squad Weapon program, the Army is asking industry to come up with weapon and ammunition designs that will address some of the shortfalls it has seen with the current M4 and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon carried by most front-line units.
Chambered in 5.56mm, the M4 and SAW has a lethal range of about 300 meters, service officials have said.
The new rifle and automatic rifle must be able to engage targets out to 600 meters, industry insiders say.
“This is a weapon that could defeat any body armor, any planned body armor that we know of in the future,” former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has said. “This is a weapon that can go out at ranges that are unknown today. There is a target acquisition system built into this thing that is unlike anything that exists today. This is a very sophisticated weapon."
In its announcement on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the Army said it had selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, AAI Corporation Textron Systems and Sig Sauer as the three finalists for the program. Previously FN America — which makes many of the Army’s current M4 rifles — and PCP Tactical were being considered for the NGSW program.
The Army is asking GD, Textron and Sig Sauer each to supply 53 rifles, 43 automatic rifles and 850,000 rounds of ammunition for testing. The contract lasts for eight years, but the prototype testing will last for 27 months — in line with the Army’s stated goal to have the new rifle and machine gun fielded to combat units by 2022.
The service has said the NGSW will not replace all M4s in the Army but will be carried primarily by front-line troops.
The 27-month test program will include “soldier touch point” tests that evaluate “mobility and maneuverability on Army relevant obstacles, and user acceptance scenario testing,” the Army says.
The service will also test the weapon’s controllability, the round’s ballistic effectiveness and a “limited evaluation with Soldiers in the loop to assess the suitability and effectiveness for combat operations."
"These evaluations may be conducted with multiple squads,” the Army added.
The key to the program is the development of the cartridge itself. The Army has asked industry to develop a round with a 6.8mm bullet. The exact specifications and the threats it would be designed to counter are still secret, but industry officials say the bigger, heavier bullet will reach nearly double the distance with more lethal force than the smaller, 5.56 round.
General Dynamics has been developing a 6.8mm round with a polymer case, helping reduce the weight of extra ammo a soldier might carry employing a rifle with a larger, heavier round.
Textron has spent years developing a so-called “cased-telescoped” round that is even lighter and smaller than the GD option. That round has mostly been a test bed for the Army to explore ways to lighten a soldier’s ammunition load but has been given a new lease on life with the NGSW program.
Sig Sauer — maker of the Army’s new M17 and M18 handgun — has taken a more traditional approach with a 6.8mm round incorporating a blended metal case that is still lighter than an all-brass one.
The Army says it has the option to make a selection during the first 27-month prototype phase and award a final contract. The service says it wants to buy up to 250,000 weapons — a combination of rifles and automatic rifles — and up to 150 million rounds of the new 6.8mm ammunition.
Another complete waste of time and money
"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers
Why not to just switch to the 6.8 SPC and save us taxpayers millions of wasted dollars, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if they scrap the program and just stick with the 5.56 mm because of "the cost" factor.
This. I get wanting a heavier round, but wanting something lighter than 7.62x51, but why spend all the money and time trying to develop a new non-conventional cartridge design?
|Frangas non Flectes|
For fuck’s sake.
|Go ahead punk, make my day|
More retired Generals in need of contracting jobs.
Lets say this did ever happen. I predict a surge in excitement for the 270. No longer will we mostly see 130/150grn bullets. Instead there will be heavy 270 bullets, like 200grn plus. Not to mention the endless articles about how we ever managed before the 1-7 twist, 220 grain 270.
Hannibal ad portas. Carthago delenda est.
I love the part of this article that claims that “officials say that the M4 and SAW are only lethal out to 300 meters and accurate to 600”.... who writes this shit? And more importantly I’ve heard some pretty stupid shit come from full birds and generals about weapons but I don’t believe that anyone is that stupid
I especially love the body armor comments...any now and any planned in the future.
Be tough to live up to that even if they figure out how to do depleted uranium and heat in a rifle round...
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
|What is the |
soup du jour?
Can't we just burn the money. It would be of more use.
Literally every higher ranking officer that visited my unit made the same bull shit promises. And that was 10 years ago. Hell im still in disbelief that they got the M17.. but even then they all said we’re going back to the 45
Back when I was in Iraq ( was that already 14 years ago?!) the Army times ran a cover story about the HK XM 8 proclaiming “here is your next service rifle”
And articles about adopting a non 9mm pistol
A believe it when I see it thing.
Looking back to the WWII era we had small light weapons for light duty popular for short range jungle and urban warfare ( M1 carbine) trench broom weapons ( Thompson and grease gun) long range squad firepower ( bar) and a main battle rifle ( garand)
The army trying to create a one size fits all weapon is simply never going to be optimal
I was issued an M16A4 in Iraq where the M4 would have made more sense, then in Afghanistan a M4 where the longer rifle would make more sense.
Proverbs 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Jack O'Connor has been praising the 6.8 (270 Win.) since 1925. I think John Garand designed the M-1 originally for .276 Pederson(?). Ninety four years later, it's deja vu all over again.
Don't understand the hate (the cynicism...I get.)
The M16 series is getting very long in the tooth and the M249 was never all that good. Combine that with a better intermediate cartridge AND a 21st century fire control system and we'll have a winner.
I was never in the bag on 5.56 and M4's camp (having trusted my life to them on multiple deployments), but we are long past due for an upgrade.
If not now...when?
The SCAR-16 and HK 416 are a good example of not worth it. A bit more reliable and a slightly better weapon system, but still 5.56 with the same optics choices. Not better enough to spend billions.
Pair an intermediate cartridge with an auto ranging optic that computes and displays the aim point for the soldier (already current tech) with both a carbine and a LMG version, the juice will be worth the squeeze IMHO.
“People have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.” –Chuck Palahnuik
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|I Am The Walrus|
They can predict the future. Out fucking standing!
When we get in a shooting war with China and their 5.8 DB10 (6mm class) ammunition proves to be more effective on the battlefield than our 5.56.
That when implies an "if" too.
The issue is bullets and rifles aren't sexy, like jet fighters and new ships. Thus it's hard to fund something that doesn't have the kind of publicity garnering gravitas as a new line of aircraft carriers, stealth bombers, or air superiority fighters.
There might be a household analogy--most people would rather buy a new car than buy a new vacuum cleaner, even if the old vacuum is losing suction and getting squeaky. And even if a new car costs way more than a new vacuum cleaner.
Small arms development often takes place in small evolutionary steps. A whole new caliber and rifle, depending on how different the weapon system is, might constitute a different evolutionary branch. Development tends to be forced by the retrospective realities of a wartime theater (for example: M16 v. M14 in Vietnam) rather forward anticipation of the next conflict.
It's hard to think of many weapons systems that are still in use, but older than the M16.
The B52 and C-130 come to mind, both entered service in 1954, about a decade before the M16.
Other iconic systems like the M1 Abrams and Phalanx CWIS entered service in the 80s.
It's really easy for the brass to say "Russia has X fighter" or "China has Y missile system." Those are big items that we need to keep up with. Small arms tends to suck hind teet because it's a lot harder to make comparisons that justify changing over entire weapons systems. Our fighters have to be better than the other guy's fighters. Our rifles just have to keep shooting the same bullets they've always shot. It's kind of myopic, but that's the mentality nonetheless.
|Military Arms Collector|
boy who cries wolf.
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