The Army Is One Step Closer To A 6.8mm Next-Generation Rifle

Bullet Points

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.

WATCH NEXT:

Soldiers from the 1-118th Field Artillery Regiment of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in Southern Afghanistan, June 10th, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jordan Trent)

Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)

Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.

Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.

Read More
Audie Murphy (U.S. Army photo)

Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018

On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.

Read More
A Purple Heart (DoD photo)

Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Read More
Ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 transit the Pacific Ocean Jan. 22, 2020. DESRON 23, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Navy and Marine Corps need to be a bit more short-sighted when assessing how many ships they need, the acting Navy secretary said this week.

The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.

"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.

The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.

Read More
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew becomes emotional while speaking about officer Katie Thyne during a press conference Friday morning Jan. 24, 2020 in Newport News, Va. Officer Thyne died Thursday night after being dragged during a traffic stop. (Daily Press/Jonathon Gruenke via Tribune News Service)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.

Read More