Here is All the pieces We Now Know About The Military’s New Squad Rifles


For the primary time in six many years, the Military will endeavor to introduce a brand new suite of small arms and related equipment with the adoption of Sig Sauer’s household of Subsequent-Era Squad Weapons. This features a rifle and a lightweight machine gun in a brand new 6.8mm caliber of ammunition, in addition to a fireplace management system, amongst different issues.

Following a 27-month analysis of three weapon techniques, the Military introduced on April 19 that Sig’s XM5 rifle was chosen to interchange the M4/M4A1 carbine, and the belt-fed XM250, variously known as an computerized rifle and a lightweight machine gun, is the deliberate substitute for the M249 squad computerized weapon inside the shut fight forces.

Sig Sauer’s XM5 rifle will substitute the M4/M4A1 in shut fight items. Military picture

“We must always observe that that is the primary time in our lifetime, the primary time in 65 years the Military will subject a weapon system of this nature,” stated Brig. Gen. Larry Burris, commander of the U.S. Military Infantry Faculty at Fort Benning final week, and Soldier Lethality Cross-Purposeful Group chief stated throughout an April 20 press convention on the Pentagon. The service formally adopted its first model of the 5.56x45mm M16, a design that ultimately spawned the present problem M4 and M4A1 carbines, in 1965.

Each of the brand new Sig weapons are chambered in 6.8x51mm, a departure from the NATO-standard 5.56x45mm cartridge fired by the M4 and the bigger, extra highly effective 7.62x51mm spherical fired by the service’s new Squad Designated Marksman Rifle and different weapons. The rounds use a hybrid-metallic casing that reduces its general weight.

Switching to six.8mm ammunition ought to present prolonged vary and energy over the present 5.56mm spherical with out the majority of seven.62mm, desired attributes after witnessing the smaller spherical’s limitations throughout the International Battle on Terror. Brig. Gen. Invoice Boruff, Joint Program Govt Officer for Armaments and Ammunition, stated the 5.56mm cartridge design “has been maxed out from the efficiency perspective” with the adoption of the M855A1 Enhanced Efficiency Spherical (EPR) The M855A1, which was first launched in 2010, has earned excessive marks from troopers, in response to Boruff.

The belt-fed Sig Sauer XM250 was chosen as an M249 gentle machine gun substitute. Military picture

“The brand new weapon, with its elevated working stress and measurement, permits the Military to considerably improve the efficiency functionality of the ammunition,” Boruff stated. “These advances enable troopers on the squad stage to ship improved goal defeat at greater energies to superior threats at prolonged ranges.”

A ten-year, $20.4 million preliminary manufacturing contract was introduced on April 19, following a 27-month analysis of three competing weapon techniques. Greater than 500 troopers, Marines, and particular operators contributed 20,000 hours of testing on the NGSW rifles and machine weapons, Burris stated.

The preliminary contract covers about 40 complete weapons — 25 XM5s and 15 XM250s — that shall be used to develop Sig Sauer’s manufacturing line, in response to Col. Scott Madore, the Military’s Venture Supervisor for Soldier Lethality. It additionally buys sufficient ammunition for the Military and Sig Sauer to develop and set up manufacturing of the rifle in enough portions for fielding. All advised, there’s a $4.7 billion ceiling on the deal, which permits for the acquisition of as much as 250,000 rifles for the Military, different U.S. army companies, and potential overseas army gross sales prospects, in response to the Military. The Military plans to purchase a mixture of about 107,000 M5s about 13,000 M250s, Burris stated.

Operational testing is predicted to start in early 2024 with a primary unit geared up within the fall of the identical yr. The weapons will go to “shut fight” forces in each the energetic part and Nationwide Guard as ammunition manufacturing ramps up, Burris stated. Beneath the present fielding plan, infantry, cavalry scouts, fight engineers, fight medics, and ahead observers will carry the NGSW. The Military will proceed to subject the M4, M249, and M240B medium machine gun to items outdoors of the shut fight power, he stated.

U.S. Military Spc. Felípe Aragón zeroes his M249 gentle machine gun at Zagan, Poland, March 17, 2022. U.S. Military Nationwide Guard picture by Spc. Hassani Ribera

Each weapons are primarily based on Sig’s widespread MCX line, a piston-operated spinoff of the AR-15/M16 household that the U.S. army already makes use of. A protracted-barrel model of the MCX was lately used throughout the Greatest Ranger Competitors at Fort Benning, Georgia, the place a brand new model of the M110 semi-automatic sniper rifle from Knight’s Armament additionally made an look.

Whereas the weapons carry an “X” designation as a result of they’re technically experimental and never but fielded, every will observe their predecessors’ designation because the M5 and M250. An unloaded M5 rifle is about two kilos heavier than an empty M4, not an insignificant soar from a weapon that weighs 6.4 kilos empty, whereas the automated M250 will weigh in at lower than the M249 with out ammunition. The gas-piston-operated XM5 has a 13-inch barrel, about 1.5 inches shorter than the M4, and has an general size of 34 inches with its inventory prolonged.

Each the XM5 and XM250 shall be paired with the XM157 Fireplace Management Optic unit, a ruggedized superior fireplace management system that will increase accuracy and lethality for the shut fight power. The XM157 integrates plenty of superior applied sciences, together with a variable magnification optic (1×8 magnification), backup etched reticle, laser rangefinder, ballistic calculator, atmospheric sensor suite, and compass.

Vortex XM157 fireplace management optic. Vortex

By going with the Sig Sauer choices, the Military selected maybe probably the most conventional rifle design within the competitors. It additionally provides the corporate clear dominance in offering the Military with standard-issue small arms. The M17 and M18 Modular Handgun System pistols, custom-made variants of the Sig P320, started changing the M9, a model of the Beretta 92, amongst different handguns, in 2017. U.S. Particular Operations Command additionally purchased a small variety of conversion kits from the Swiss gun maker to show present M4A1 carbines into new MCX Rattler personnel protection weapons, or PDWs.

Sig bested the LoneStar Future Weapons RM277 bullpup rifle, initially entered into the competitors by Common Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Methods (GD-OTS), for the NGSW contract. Textron’s AAI division, which provided a know-how demonstrator, generally known as the NGSW-Expertise, was eradicated from the competitors when the NGSW-T didn’t meet the “success standards” throughout preliminary testing, stated Col. Madore, the Venture Supervisor for Soldier Lethality.

An Military slide exhibiting all three preliminary entrants to the Subsequent-Era Squad Weapon competitors. Military picture

Maybe as necessary because the rifles themselves is the adoption of the brand new ammunition, the one requirement for which is that it weigh much less per spherical than 7.62mm cartridges. Burris insisted the selection of 6.8mm is just not meant to interchange both 7.62 or 5.56 as NATO commonplace ammunition. 

Every competitor provided ammunition particular to its weapon, although it needed to be 6.8mm and weigh lower than 7.62, Madore stated. That basically lessened the chance that the Military would select a rifle from one competitor and lightweight machine gun from one other, although that was an possibility, he stated. 

Sig’s hybrid metallic case consists of a standard brass casing with a metal base and shall be marketed to civilians as 277 Fury. A semi-automatic model of the XM5 referred to as the MCX Spear will ultimately be obtainable to civilians. 

Sig Sauer’s 6.8mm hybrid metallic ammunition has a brass casing with a metal base. Sig Sauer

As a result of every NGSW vendor provided ammunition distinctive to their weapons, the Military can solely now start working with Sig Sauer to supply its 6.8mm rounds in enough quantity for fielding, Boruff stated.

“The thrilling level for us is, now we are able to work with Sig Sauer and we are able to refine a number of the pressures within the weapon that may improve the ammunition as we transfer ahead,” he stated. 

Fielding an enough provide of ammunition within the new caliber shall be a serious problem that may require increasing the Military’s and business’s present manufacturing capability. The Military has spent many years refining the best way it produces and procures ammunition to make sure provide isn’t exhausted, Boruff stated. 

“Take into account getting ready a brand new weapon fielding beginning with completely zero stock and the economic base being established,” Boruff stated. ‘It’s daunting, certainly.”

The XM5 is barely shorter, however two kilos heavier than the M4 carbine it was chosen to interchange. Sig Sauer

The Military has to mass sufficient ammunition for each fight and coaching necessities earlier than fielding the NGSW, which would require boosting manufacturing of the brand new 6.8mm spherical by Sig Sauer and the Lake Metropolis Ammunition Plant in Missouri. That facility made ammunition for all three rivals throughout the NGSW program, Boruff stated. Some present gear there shall be modified for larger output of the 6.8 spherical whereas a devoted 6.8 manufacturing line is constructed in a brand new constructing, Boruff stated. Lake Metropolis’s new constructing ought to start producing ammunition in fiscal years 2025 or 2026, however manufacturing elsewhere shall be enough to subject the NGSW till it’s up and working.

“When it is time for them to subject in ‘23 and ‘24, we’ll have sufficient reserve ammunition for us to go ahead … and there is going to be no delay within the fielding plan proper now,” Boruff stated. 

There isn’t any indication that the Military will start fielding every other new weapons in 6.8mm fairly than the usual NATO calibers at the moment, however efforts are underway to transform some present arms to the brand new intermediate spherical. The Military is actively on the lookout for an M240 6.8mm conversion equipment for the M240B and/or M240L machine weapons, each of that are chambered in 7.62mm weapons, whereas preserving the “sturdiness, reliability, and performance of the M240 weapon platform,” the Military stated in an ongoing solicitation.

In the meantime, True Velocity has test-fired the TVCM composite-cased ammunition it developed for the GD-OTS/LoneStar entry on an M134 Minigun and different weapons. The corporate asserts {that a} easy barrel change is sufficient to enable weapons just like the M240 to fireside 6.8mm ammunition as an alternative of seven.62mm.

Fielding a brand new squad weapon system with a totally new caliber of ammunition is a serious enterprise for an Military that has not considerably altered its commonplace small arms in six many years, although not for lack of attempting. Critics have already got piled on the NGSW program as headed for a similar graveyard because the futuristic XM8, developed by Heckler & Koch and deserted by the Military after years of testing.

The Battle Zone will proceed to maintain tabs on the NGSW as testing continues and fielding nears.

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