Army May Unveil A New And Improved Lightweight .50-Cal By Summer

Army photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

Like most of us, the U.S. Army is trying to shed weight before the summer hits, with plans to unveil a new lightweight .50-caliber machine gun within the next few months. Although it will likely take another year to move beyond the prototype stage and into production, the weapon’s engineers are already lauding its versatility and lean muscle.

These developments spell big changes for the M2 .50-cal model, which has the longest active service record of any weapon in the U.S. Army arsenal. The M2 and its successor, the M2A1 — a more reliable and durable model than the original —  have been used on American tanks, ships, helicopters, and Humvees since the .50-cal debuted in 1933. That’s 83 years, six wars, and a whole lot of lead put downrange.

But it’s time for a tune-up, and a pretty significant one at that. The new .50-cal will only weigh 60 pounds — 26 lighter than the current 86-pound models — but will pack the same punch. It’ll be far easier to handle and give gunners an unprecedented combination of strength, speed, and agility. It’s like upgrading from the family sedan to a Corvette, except this isn’t a car. It’s a death machine.

Related: Army chief eyeing glock pistol as service’s next sidearm »

The key upgrade involves the gun’s body, which is made of significantly lighter titanium than current models. This new material will provide troops with the nimble power that is key when transporting, mounting, and firing weapons against enemy forces. Gunners on helicopters, Humvees, and tanks will especially benefit from this newfound agility since it will be far easier to shift fire from a moving vehicle.   

There is, however, a catch. This lightweight .50-cal still needs to be built and thoroughly tested, leaving plenty of room for alteration and speculation. Despite the uncertainty, Army officials like Lt. Col. Paul Alessio, product manager for Crew Served Weapons, are confident this is the first of many major upgrades to come.

In an interview with Scout Warrior, Alessio said the Army also has plans to develop advanced lightweight, caseless ammunition, a lighter barrel, new fire control technology, and new optics — including a laser rangefinder, which uses the speed of light to identify exact target distances — for the improved .50-cal. Alessio estimates these features will be battle-ready within the next 5-10 years.

Worth the wait? Absolutely.

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less