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The Army Is One Step Closer To A 6.8mm Next-Generation Rifle
It's official: After months of testing, the Army is moving forward with an intermediate round between the traditional 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibers for its M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements.
- A new Prototype Opportunity Notice posted on Oct. 4 includes a 6.8mm common round for potential submissions from defense contractors for the Next Generation Squad Weapon program, which includes the NGSW-Rifle (NGSW-R) carbine replacement and NGSW-Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) replacement for the SAW.
- While the Army confirmed that it was testing a 6.8mm round for the M249 SAW and M4 carbine replacements back in May, the PON further solidifies the arrival of a new prototype bullet that offers "extended range, controllable recoil, and deadly effect because of the velocity and the weight of the bullet," as Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales (ret.), chairman of an advisory board to the Pentagon’s close combat lethality task force, told Task & Purpose at the time.
- PEO Soldier Chief Brig. Gen. Anthony Pott told Army Times that the NGSAR program has already selected five companies to produce several prototypes by June: FN America, Sig Sauer, PCP Tactical, General Dynamics, and Textron Systems — the latter of which plans recently received contracts of NGSW program fire control systems.
- The Army has been hunting for an improved round since May 2017, when Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley told lawmakers that the 5.56mm rounds chambered in the standard-issue M4 carbines failed to penetrate enemy body armor downrange. In February, officials told Task & Purpose that the Army planned to replace its 80,000 SAWs with the NGSAR chambered in an intermediate caliber as soon as fiscal 2022
- “We’re looking to reach out around 600 meters and have lethal effects even if the target is protected by body armor," Col. Geoffrey A. Norman, force development division chief at Army HQ, told Task & Purpose at the time. "We need to have lethal effects against protected targets and we need to have requirements for long-range lethality in places like Afghanistan, where you’re fighting from mountaintop to mountaintop over extended ranges.”
The Textron 5.56mm LSAT light machine gun. In the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing of Feb. 7th, 2018, the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) demonstrator weapon was revealed to be a Textron prototype based on LSAT technologyTextron/The Firearm Blog
- While the PON doesn't provide a clear timeline for additional testing, the 27-month window for development noted by Army Times suggests that the winning contractor could start churning out the new NGSAR by 2021 — potentially ahead of schedule.
- In the end, the right ammo solution "is somewhere between the two, where you have enough mass to penetrate but you’re still moving fast enough," as Col. Norman told Task & Purpose back in February. Based on the PON, it looks like the Army has found it.
The Marine Corps has tapped a new Silicon Valley defense firm to develop a "digital fortress" of networked surveillance systems in order to enhance the situational awareness of security forces at installations around the world.
Marine Corps Installations Command on July 15 announced a $13.5 million sole source contract award to Anduril Industries — the two-year-old defense technology company and Project Maven contractor founded by Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and several former Palantir Technologies executives — for a new Autonomous Surveillance Counter Intrusion Capability (ASCIC) designed to help secure installations against "all manners of intrusion" without additional manpower.
This is no standard intrusion system. Through its AI-driven Lattice Platform network and 32-foot-tall autonomous Sentry Towers, Anduril purports to combine the virtual reality systems that Luckey pioneered at Oculus with Pentagon's most advanced sensors into a simple mobile platform, enhancing an installation's surveillance capabilities with what Wired recently dubbed "a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees."
The Marine Corps' dune buggy drone jammer may have downed two Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. military have officials announced.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on July 18 when two Iranian drones came dangerously close, according to U.S. Central Command.
"This was a defensive action by the USS Boxer in response to aggressive interactions by two Iranian UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms in international waters," CENTCOM spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement. "The Boxer took defensive action and engaged both of these platforms."
Green Beret with terminal cancer meets Trump to rally support for military medical malpractice reform
On July 17, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal briefly met with President Donald Trump at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina to discuss the eponymous legislation that would finally allow victims of military medical malpractice to sue the U.S. government.
A Green Beret with terminal lung cancer, Stayskal has spent the last year fighting to change the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court precedent that bars service members like him from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.
The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.
Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.
"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.
The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.
But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?