The Army is going all-in on killer apps for its next-generation squad weapon

Military Tech

ViDEO: 5.56mm vs 6.8mm

If the Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon program is supposed to produce the iPhone of lethality, then the service is looking for as many killer apps as possible.


Two weeks after selecting three defense contractors to furnish the Army with prototypes for the NGSW, the service on Tuesday issued a sources sought notice for an NGSW Innovative Designs & Engineering Assessment (IDEA) Program to identify "new, innovative, enabling technologies" for the weapon, fire-control system, and specialized 6.8mm ammo.

"These technologies will be used for experimentation, technical evaluation, and/or assessment of operational utility focused on enhancing system performance, sustainment, and/or training," the notice reads. "This information will advise/inform future NGSW requirements and may compliment or be integrated into existing programs such as the NGSW weapons, ammunition, and fire control."

The NGSW program, initiated to a "one end-all solution" replacement for the M4 carbine and M249 SAW replacements, has incorporated numerous next-generation technologies since its inception, from facial-recognition and automatic targeting fire control tech to upgraded software and hardware for the standard-issue Picatinny rail.

But now that Army planners actually have a handful of prototypes to play with, the IDEA program fits nicely with the vision of the NGSW as the small arms equivalent of the uber-customizable iPhone, a concept that Col. Elliott Caggins, project manager for soldier weapons, described to Task & Purpose in February 2019

"Imagine that Steve Jobs and his engineers were trying to convert the iPod Touch to the first 3G iPhone," Caggins said at the time. "There were a thousand technologies they could have put in the first iPhone but they were looking to mature the platform before they could actually go onto the system."

"We have hundreds of capabilities we can put into this weapons system, but we want to do it by holistically creating a system that that takes advantage of everything we've done in the past," he added. "This means its capabilities will only grow, just as the iPhone's did."

According to the sources sought notice, the Army is only accepting new tech concepts for the NGSW through the end of 2019. Army modernization officials previously told Congress recently that the service aims to field the NGSW to soldiers by fall 2021.


The aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Strike Groups and ships from the Republic of Korea Navy transit the Western Pacific Ocean Nov. 12, 2017. (U.S. Navy/ Lt. Aaron B. Hicks)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The new acting secretary of the Navy said recently that he is open to designing a fleet that is larger than the current 355-ship plan, one that relies significantly on unmanned systems rather than solely on traditional gray hulls.

Read More Show Less
Maj. Mathew Golsteyn and 1st Lt. Clint Lorance (U.S. Army photos)

President Donald Trump, speaking during a closed-door speech to Republican Party of Florida donors at the state party's annual Statesman's Dinner, was in "rare form" Saturday night.

The dinner, which raised $3.5 million for the state party, was met with unusual secrecy. The 1,000 attendees were required to check their cell phones into individual locked cases before they entered the unmarked ballroom at the south end of the resort. Reporters were not allowed to attend.

But the secrecy was key to Trump's performance, which attendees called "hilarious."

Riding the high of the successful event turnout — and without the pressure of press or cell phones — Trump transformed into a "total comedian," according to six people who attended the event and spoke afterward to the Miami Herald.

He also pulled an unusual move, bringing on stage Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who Trump pardoned last month for cases involving war crimes. Lorance was serving a 19-year sentence for ordering his soldiers shoot at unarmed men in Afghanistan, and Golsteyn was to stand trial for the 2010 extrajudicial killing of a suspected bomb maker.

Read More Show Less
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Charles McGee (center), a decorated veteran of three wars, receives a congratulatory a send off after visiting with 436 Aerial Port Squadron personnel at Dover Air Force Base to help celebrate his 100th birthday in Dover, Delaware, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Associated Press/David Tulis)

Retired Col. Charles McGee stepped out of the small commercial jet and flashed a smile.

Then a thumbs-up.

McGee had returned on a round-trip flight Friday morning from Dover Air Force Base, where he served as co-pilot on one of two flights done especially for his birthday.

By the way he disembarked from the plane, it was hard to tell that McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, was turning 100.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephane Belcher)

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would allow service members to seek compensation when military doctors make mistakes that harm them, but they would still be unable to file medical malpractice lawsuits against the federal government.

On Monday night, Congress announced that it had finalized the NDAA, which must be passed by the House and Senate before going to President Donald Trump. If the president signs the NDAA into law, it would mark the first time in nearly seven decades that U.S. military personnel have had legal recourse to seek payment from the military in cases of medical malpractice.

Read More Show Less
Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove (Lincoln County Sheriff's Office)

A major serving at U.S. Army Cyber Command has been charged with distributing child pornography, according to the Justice Department.

Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove, who is based at Fort Gordon, Georgia, has been remanded to the U.S. Marshals service, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia says.

Read More Show Less