The US Army Wants a New Intermediate Calibre Round for its Next-Gen Weapons

The US Army has selected 6.8mm as the new common round for both its Squad Automatic Weapon and M4 replacement.

A Prototype Opportunity Notice posted on the government website is going to give three companies the chance to submit their versions of the new individual service rifle, the Next Generation Squad Weapon, chambered in 6.8mm, the same round that developers are using for the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle program.

Until recently, officials would only say that developers were being encouraged to look at requirements in the intermediate caliber range, somewhere between the existing 5.56mm and 7.62mm rounds common to individual, sniper and machine guns in the Army’s inventory.

Until recently, the goal was to first develop the NGSAR and then allow its advancements to inform the development of the M4 replacement, the NGSW-Rifle.

But, Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, who leads Program Executive Office Soldier, recently told Army Times that the new approach is to develop both along the same path, with the same round, so that designers can find the best fit for ammo in both weapons, much like existing M4s and Squad Automatic Weapons both fire the 5.56mm.

A US soldier fires an M4 at a weapons range at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, August 30, 2017. Credits : US Army/Sgt. 1st Class Randall Pike

The NGSAR program selected five companies this summer to produce six prototypes. Those are expected for delivery by June, according to officials.

Those companies are:

AAI Corporation Textron Systems.
FN America LLC.
General Dynamics-OTS Inc.
PCP Tactical, LLC.
Sig Sauer, Inc.
Each will submit one prototype for the NGSAR, except for FN, which has been allowed to submit two variants.

That program continues so far, but the new notice will mean the three companies selected will deliver both the rifle and machine gun in 6.8mm for testing and a potential contract.

This week’s posting expects about a 27-month period for development, meaning production could begin as soon as 2021.

A US soldier fires an M4 carbine during marksmanship-sustainment training in Mosul, Iraq, September 29, 2010. Credits : US Army /Private 1st Class Angel Washington

And once that production begins, companies are expected to produce at least 200 weapons per month. Within six months of the award, they need to pump out 2,000 weapons a month within three years for a potential total order of 250,000 weapons systems, both NGSW-R and NGSAR, over a 10-year period.

That cashes out to $10 million the first year and an estimated $150 million a year for the higher production rate years.

During the coming two-plus years, companies will have to provide 50 NGSW-R weapons, 850,000 rounds of ammunition, spare parts and test barrels.

The ammunition will be a 6.8mm general purpose, or GP, round that’s not tailored to one specific shooting scenario but is instead an all-purpose round suitable to combat, limited training and basic qualification.

But they also must deliver both a High Pressure Test Round, loaded 20 percent higher than normal pressure. That is to stress the gun barrel and breech during firing.

Credits : Chris Hondros/Getty Images

For other functional tests such as weapon chambering, clearing and maintenance tasks, they must also include a Drilled Dummy Inert cartridge.

The companies will have to provide a testable prototype within a year for initial testing.

The prototype 6.8mm NGSW-R will include a sling, flash hider, suppressor, cleaning kit, flash hider/suppressor removal tool, and quantities of magazines required to provide a minimum of 210 stowed rounds.

The prototype 6.8mm NGSAR will include bi-pod, sling, flash hider, suppressor, cleaning kit, flash hider/suppressor removal tool, and quantities of magazines/drums/belts/other required to provide a minimum of 210 stowed rounds.

And, of course, both will need to have rails capable of mounting a variety of rifle optics, aiming lasers and the Family of Weapon Sights-Individual.

The FWS-I is an all-in-one optic under development by Army researchers that pairs a rifle-mounted camera with Night Vision Goggles and Heads Up Display to allow the weapon sight to be displayed in the optic through a range of obscurants.

(By : Todd South /Military Times)


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One Comment

  1. Ahh…. Americans are misleading the world armies again. In sixties and seventies they were giving rave reviews for 5.56 round, although the round does not have the kill power in a battle. After misleading including the Indian army to give up FAL battle rifle into 5.56 mm local made INSAS, now they are turning around and educating the world that 5.56 is alright but 6.8mm is even better. It has the kill power, also a bit lighter. If the world was to follow them then there is $60 billion business for them. Yes, Russians will not change. They and everybody else who uses 7.62×39 round are very happy with it. This round has the kill power and light weight required except UZd does not like it. Hence they have to come up with their own version of 6.8mm round.

    The world is a loss where to go. Whether switch to 7.62×39 or switch to 6.8 round. American will always recommend 6.8 caliber.

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