- The US Army hopes to replace its M4 carbine and M249 squad weapon by 2023
- Textron Systems, GD-OTS, and SIG Sauer are competing for the Next-Generation Squad Weapon
The US Army plans to replace its 5.56 mm M4/M4A1 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon with a 6.8 mm Next-Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle (NGSW-R) and Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR), respectively. Textron Systems, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS), and SIG Sauer have showcased their chosen offerings.
In August, the army announced that it had awarded those three bidders with NGSW prototype contracts, under which they are to begin delivering weapons and ammunition within 27 months, and the service plans to make a final downselect in 2022 to have NGSW-R and NGSW-AR ready for a first quarter 2023 first unit equipped date.
SIG Sauer uses a new 6.8×51 mm hybrid cartridge, Jason St John, strategic product manager for SIG Sauer, told Jane's at the annual Association of the United States Army 2019 (AUSA 2019) conference in October. The round has a stainless-steel base, washer, and brass casing. The steel is lighter than brass and thus saves weight, and the combination enables SIG Sauer to get better pressure ratings.
St John explained that typical brass rounds can begin to fail at about 65-68 ksi, but the hybrid rounds regularly function at 70 ksi and have been tested at up to 103 ksi. This, he argued, means there is space for growth in the ammunition and the opportunity to develop larger rounds, or rounds that achieve more feet per second.
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