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So Long, 5.56: The Army Is Testing A Bigger Bullet For Its SAW And Carbine Replacements
For decades the U.S. military’s rifles and machine guns have chambered either 5.56mm or 7.62mm rounds. Now, the Army’s newest weapons are being tested to fire a new caliber bullet that’s faster and more accurate to give soldiers an edge over their adversaries.
The Army is not saying exactly what types of defenses that this new bullet is meant to penetrate, but last year Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers that some types of body armor can stop a 5.56mm round.
“We have to change because of the threats that we face on the battlefield – and I’m not going to go any deeper than that,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Donahue, director of the Army’s soldier lethality cross functional team. “Our reason for change is based off of threat.”
The Army is currently testing a 6.8mm round for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and M4 carbine replacements, Donahue told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.
The prototype bullet being tested is significantly lighter than a 7.62mm round because the 6.8mm round’s casing is made out of lighter material, he said.
Another benefit is that it flies at a supersonic velocity for longer, so it is more accurate, retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales told Task & Purpose.
“It’s the optimum compromise: It gives you extended range, controllable recoil, and deadly effect because of the velocity and the weight of the bullet,” said Scales, who is chairman of an advisory board to the Pentagon's close combat lethality task force.
If the Army adopted a 6.8mm round, it would need to develop a new action for its carbines and SAW replacement, he said. Since the bullet’s casing would not be made out of metal, the Army would also have to control the heat to keep the casings from melting.
“These are problems that can be solved,” Scales said. “We’re not talking about ballistic missile defense here.”
The round itself is not the biggest technical hurdle to be overcome, Donahue said. Both the automatic rifle that will replace the SAW and the new carbine will have increased chamber pressure and digital sights that “are probably a bigger deal” than the bullet that they will chamber.
Both new weapons are meant for soldiers “who close with the enemy,” including infantry, cavalry scouts, platoon forward observers, engineers and others, he said.
The Army is testing both the automatic rifle and new carbine at the same time, but the service expects to field the SAW replacement first, Donahue said.
“The carbine is not far behind,” added Donahue, who declined to say when the new weapons might eventually be fielded.
“The Army has made the replacement of the squad automatic weapon and the M4 carbine – based off of potential enemy threats out there – a top priority,” Donahue said. “We will do everything to make sure that we as rapidly as possible get the right capability into the hands of our soldiers, but we will make sure that the capability that we give them is ready – it is tested, to include significant soldier test points – to make sure that we get is exactly what they need to fight, win, and survive in combat.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Thursday tested a conventionally configured ground-launched ballistic missile, a test that would have been prohibited under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The United States formally withdrew from the landmark 1987 INF pact with Russia in August after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.
The Taliban may not have breached the walls of Bagram, but they damaged the hell out of its main passenger terminal
Blasts from Taliban car bombs outside of Bagram Airfield on Wednesday caused extensive damage to the base's passenger terminal, new pictures released by the 45th Expeditionary Wing show.
The pictures, which are part of a photo essay called "Bagram stands fast," were posted on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service's website on Thursday.
The Pentagon's top spokesman tried to downplay recent revelations by the Washington Post that U.S. government officials have consistently misled the American public about the war in Afghanistan for nearly two decades.
Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock first brought to light that several top officials acknowledged to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction that the war was going badly despite their optimistic public statements. The report, based on extensive interviews and internal government data, also found that U.S. officials manipulated statistics to create the public perception that the U.S. military was making progress in Afghanistan.
An Army colonel's alleged abuse saddled his wife with ongoing medical needs. Escaping him could bring that care to a screeching halt.
Katherine Burton was sitting on her couch when she heard a scream.
Though she had not yet met her upstairs neighbors, Army. Col. Jerel Grimes and his wife Ellizabeth, Burton went to investigate almost immediately. "I knew it was a cry for help," she recalled of the August 1 incident.
Above her downstairs apartment in Huntsville, Alabama, Jerel and Ellizabeth had been arguing. They had been doing a lot of that lately. According to Ellizabeth, Jerel, a soldier with 26 years of service and two Afghanistan deployments under his belt, had become increasingly controlling in the months since the couple had married in April, forcing her to share computer passwords, receipts for purchases, and asking where she was at all times.
"I was starting to realize how controlling he was, and how manipulative he was," Ellizabeth said. "And he'd never been this way towards me in the 15 years that I've known him."