The US Army’s new Cross-Functional Team for soldier lethality aims in the near-term to replace the service's 5.56 mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) and perhaps, eventually, the 5.56 M4 carbine.
A Next-Generation Squad Weapons (NGSWs) portfolio includes a SAW replacement as well as an M4 carbine replacement, Brigadier General Christopher Donahue, the Cross-Functional Team director for soldier lethality, said during 27 March remarks at the Association of the US Army’s annual winter symposium.
For the SAW replacement, industry will give the army five prototypes in about a year and the government has its own prototype. These replacements will be tested to see what could potentially be fielded.
“We used a government-developed 6.8 [mm] round as a point of departure” for the SAW replacement, Brig Gen Donahue said, but the army is being flexible with the calibre in case industry finds another, better solution.
“It’s a very aggressive plan to get that first SAW replacement out,” Brig Gen Donahue said, but he declined to say what the schedule would be or how a possible new calibre might factor into that programme.
Two SAWs are typically deployed in a squad and provide significant firepower, noted Doug Tamilio, director of the US Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) and part of the soldier lethality team. Tamilio said the army wants to achieve that same firepower in a lighter, more accurate, and more lethal package.
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