ARMY NEW 6.8 MM ROUND BECOMING REALITY
ARMY NEW 6.8 MM ROUND BECOMING REALITY
Just as I was beginning think 6.5 Creedmoor would possibly be the next new United States Army caliber for troops the choice was made to adopt a 6.8mm projectile. Now before 6.8 SPC fans get all excited the evidence points to possibly a brand new caliber and even possibly a new type of ammo. It also appears that the weapon will share some common designs and parts as the AR-15/M4 but it won’t be an M4.
I have a few ideas of what might come or what I would like to see but what the heck do I know. Anyhow read below and check back regularly as I will continue to add to this page.
ARMY NEW 6.8 MM ROUND BECOMING REALITY
LAKE CITY ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT PREPARES FOR NEW 6.8 mm ROUND
The Army’s plan to adopt a 6.8 mm round includes building a new manufacturing facility at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri.
Whitney Watson, senior manager of communications of Northrop Grumman’s small caliber systems division, said his company operates the Lake City plant, which is government-owned and contractor-operated, for the Army. The plant produces about 90 percent of the Defense Department’s small caliber ammunition, such as 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm bullets, he said.
“We produce about one and a half billion rounds a year” for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, as well as the FBI, CIA and Drug Enforcement Agency, he added.
The Army is pursuing a 6.8 mm round for its next-generation squad weapon, which will be designed to work in close-, medium- and long-range battles. The service examined multiple calibers and considered different weapon lengths for the new firearm.
“The bottom line is it’s about overmatch,” Watson said. “Our adversaries are building better body armor, and so the Army wanted something — an intermediate round — between that 5.56 mm and the 7.62 mm” it currently uses.
The new ammunition will be produced at Lake City after the Army finalizes the weapon, develops the new round and builds a new production facility, he said.
The Army Corps of Engineers has been soliciting for an architect and engineering firm, and design task orders are slated to be awarded by the end of the summer. Following the awards, the service will begin determining the size and scope of the new facility, he noted.
The new building will be the first new manufacturing facility Lake City has constructed in 50 years, Watson added.
“We’ve been around since 1940 — [that] is when ground was broken — and the first rounds came off the line nine months later, Sept. 12th, 1941,” he said. “There’s definitely a storied history here at Lake City.”
Construction of the building is expected to begin in the next two to three years, and production of the new round will start in about three or four years, he noted. Source: National Defense
TEXTRON SYSTEMS DELIVERS NEXT-GENERATION SQUAD WEAPON TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATOR
Prototype Based on Proven Cased-Telescoped Weapons and Ammunition Technology
HUNT VALLEY, Md. — MARCH 25, 2019 — Textron Systems, a business of Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT), announced today that it delivered the initial Next Generation Squad Weapon-Technology (NGSW-T) prototype demonstrator to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Armaments Center and Joint Services Small Arms Program (JSSAP). The automatic rifle prototype, based on the company’s proven Cased-Telescoped (CT) Weapons and Ammunition technology, is the first of five weapon demonstrators that Textron Systems will deliver for the program.
“Moving from contract award to delivery of a revolutionary, next-generation weapon in just 15 months not only demonstrates the maturity of our CT technology, but also the project execution excellence our team possesses to rapidly fill critical warfighter needs on schedule,” said Textron Systems Senior Vice President of Applied Technologies & Advanced Programs Wayne Prender. “Our CT weapons and ammunition offer the growth path to a true next-generation small arms weapon for U.S. warfighters, including increased lethality at longer ranges, while also delivering significant weight reductions to the warfighter.”
Technologies demonstrated by Textron Systems under the NGSW-T effort will inform the Army’s formal NGSW program and include weapon and ammunition weight reduction, weapon sound suppression, as well as fire control integration technology.
In 2018, Textron Systems also received a separate contract from the U.S. Army to develop a prototype weapon for the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle- Prototype Opportunity Notice (NGSAR-PON) program and remains on track to demonstrate the weapon in June 2019.
In development since 2004, Textron Systems’ CT weapons and ammunition offer an innovative weapon design that increases lethality and reduces total system weight by up to 40 percent. Textron Systems has developed rifles, including automatic rifles, in a variety of configurations and calibers, including 5.56mm, 6.5mm, and 7.62mm, and is supporting the Army’s current efforts to revolutionize its small arms capability.
About Textron Systems
Textron Systems is a world leader in unmanned air, surface and land products, services and support for aerospace and defense customers. Harnessing agility and a broad base of expertise, Textron Systems’ innovative businesses design, manufacture, field and support comprehensive solutions that expand customer capabilities and deliver value. For more information, visit www.textronsystems.com.
About Textron Inc.
Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Greenlee, Arctic Cat, Textron Systems, and TRU Simulation + Training. For more information, visit: www.textron.com.
Certain statements in this press release may project revenues or describe strategies, goals, outlook or other non-historical matters; these forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update them. These statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.
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Textron Systems Public Relations Team
This Gun Paired With New 6.8mm Ammunition Could Be The Army’s Next Standard Issue Rifle
Textron says it has delivered the first prototype of what could be the U.S. Army’s next standard-issue rifle, which will replace its M4 carbines, for testing. The company also says its design could be a springboard for more advanced small arms developments in the future.
The Rhode-island headquartered defense contractor’s AAI Corporation subsidiary is the one in charge of the conglomerate’s submission for what Army refers formally as the Next Generation Squad Weapons program (NGSW). This effort includes plans for a new infantry rifle to take the place of the M4, or NGSW-R, and an automatic rifle replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), known as the NGSW-AR.
AAI’s delivery, which Textron announced on Mar. 25, 2019, is a technology demonstrator, known as the NGSW-Technology, or NGSW-T. It is the first of five guns that it will eventually supply to the Army as part of this initial phase of the NGSW-R competition. The service’s latest budget request for the 2020 Fiscal Year asks for more than $30 million to support the ongoing research and development.
We don’t know exactly what AAI’s design looks like, but an official press release stated that it leverages nearly 15 years of the company’s work on advanced small arms using what is known as cased-telescoped (CT) ammunition. In a traditional small arms cartridge, the bullet itself sits in place at the top of a metallic case filled with gunpowder. CT ammunition nestles the bullet inside the case with the gunpowder, shortening its overall length, which in turn allows for the length of the overall weapon to be more compact. It also makes the rounds themselves more compact, reducing the physical space required to store it, in magazines or elsewhere, reducing the burdens on troops and logistical chains.
However, the Army’s NGSW requirements call for any submissions to use a special 6.8mm cartridge, known as the XM1186, which has a traditional configuration. This new round promises to have better range, improved accuracy at longer distances, and greater armor penetration capability over the existing 5.56x45mm ammunition the service uses now. The Army’s 2020 Fiscal Year budget request says the service is also developing a “special purpose” variant of the 6.8mm round, known as the XM1184, but does not explain how the two cartridges differ.
AAI publicly unveiled a CT rifle design in 2018, which would be the obvious starting place for its gun chambered in the Army’s desired 6.8mm ammunition. The existing weapon has a general shape very similar to the service’s existing M4 carbine and features many of the same controls as other AR-15/M16-series firearms and derivatives, including the fire control selector and t-shaped charging handle.
This general commonality with the Army’s existing standard issue weapon could make it particularly attractive. Any time a major U.S. military service adopts a new rifle, it’s not only a major logistical undertaking, but one that puts significant strains on training, as well.
If what is known as the manual of arms – the typical actions associated with operating the gun, such as firing it, using its various controls, and clearing jams – between the M4 and whatever the Army adopts next remain largely the same, it would make it infinitely easier to integrate it into basic training and transition existing units to the new guns. The service says the new rifles will also feature standard rail accessories attachment points, allowing personnel to use existing lights, visible and infrared laser pointers, vertical forward grips, and other add-ons.
here is also a requirement for the guns to be able to accept a suppressor, something typically associated with special operations forces that is now looking to become more of a standard issue item for regular combat units. Suppressors, which help eliminate muzzle flash and reduce the sound of firing, can help conceal friendly forces from the enemy, especially at night, and help reduce the overall din of battle, making it easier for troops to communicate. “It’s [6.8mm] a higher caliber and a louder system, so the suppressor will help operationally,” Arthur Fiorellini, the NGSW program team leader at the Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, told Task & Purpose in February 2019.
The Army is looking to add more complex technologies to the future, too. The most significant of these proposals is to develop a miniaturized ballistic computer, or a similar aid, to help soldiers quickly and accuracy engage their targets, even at extended ranges.
AAI is certainly hoping that its previous experience and work directly with the Army in the past will give it a leg up in the competition, as well. Over the past 14 years, the firm has supplied a number of prototype squad automatic weapon demonstrators, using both CT and completely caseless ammunition, to the service for testing.
The service seems inclined to agree. In 2018, it rated the company’s submission for the automatic rifle component, then known as the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR), as exceeding its demands both in terms of general concept and feasibility. None of the other entrants – General Dynamics, FN, PCP Tactical, and Sig Sauer – received this rating.
AAI remains separately in the running for the revised NGSW-AR program, which will also fire the Army’s 6.8mm ammunition. The company’s pitch also seems to include a roadmap to potentially transitioning to CT ammunition, or maybe even caseless ammunition, at some point in the future.
“Moving from contract award to delivery of a revolutionary, next-generation weapon in just 15 months not only demonstrates the maturity of our CT technology, but also the project execution excellence our team possesses to rapidly fill critical warfighter needs on schedule,” Textron Systems Senior Vice President of Applied Technologies & Advanced Programs Wayne Prender said in a press release on Mar. 25, 2019. “Our CT weapons and ammunition offer the growth path to a true next-generation small arms weapon for U.S. warfighters, including increased lethality at longer ranges, while also delivering significant weight reductions to the warfighter.”
AAI’s existing CT ammunition design is not only shorter, but it also uses a polymer case. This means that in addition to its compact physical shape, it is also lighter weight compared to metal-cased ammunition.
he scope of the NGSW program can only produce stiff competition for AAI, though. The prospect of winning contracts to replace hundreds of thousands of rifles across the US Army is too lucrative for most established firearms companies to pass up. If the longevity of the AR-15/M16 family in U.S. military service is any indication, it could set up the winner for years of support contracts, as well. Other services, such as the Marine Corps, could end up under pressure to adopt the new guns, too.
Sig Sauer is preparing to submit a version of its increasingly popular MCX line, derived from the AR-15/M16 family, if it hasn’t already. The other entrants in the automatic rifle portion of NGSW program are no doubt crafting complimentary infantry rifle designs.
These could come along with other novel ammunition concepts, as well. The Army is asking individual competitors to supply their own 6.8mm ammunition, as well as candidate guns. For instance, Sig Sauer has already shown a hybrid case design with a brass body on top of what could be a steel base, to reduce weight and cost. PCP Tactical, which has still yet to publicly show its prospective designs for either the infantry rifle or automatic rifle components of the NGSW program, is better known for producing lightweight polymer-cased ammunition rather than firearms, too.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first time the Army has sought to adopt a new standard infantry weapon in an improved caliber. This is a saga that has been going on for more than a decade, which you can read about in more detail here.
Still, the service’s current leadership is adamant about modernizing and improving the lethality of its forces across the board, moving away from updating existing systems to fielding new ones. NGSW is very in line with this general thinking and the Army has an aggressive timetable in mind for fielding both the new infantry rifles and automatic rifles, with a goal of equipping the first unit with the new weapons by 2022.
With testing set to begin this year on all of the technology demonstrator prototypes, we may not have to wait long to see which designs the Army sees as leading contenders to become its next standard-issue rifle.