This could be the Army’s next-generation rifle optic of choice

Soldiers are about to get their hands on a new rifle optic

The Army is still in the process of evaluating the contenders for its Next Generation Squad Weapon program, and now soldiers are about to get their hands on a brand new fire control system to play with.

Defense contractor L3Harris announced last week that it had delivered 115 production prototypes and “conducted training” for its Next Generation Squad Weapon Fire Control (NGSW-FC) solution for the Army.

The prototypes provide “an integrated approach to augmented aiming by combining range-finding capability, ballistic computation and environmental sensors that increase the accuracy while decreasing the time to engage a threat,” the company said in a statement.

“The L3Harris Next Generation Squad Weapon – Fire Control system will enable soldiers to better detect, identify and engage threats at greater distances, as well as enhance situational awareness on the battlefield,” L3Harris integrated vision solutions chief Lynn Bollengier said in a statement.

This could be the Army’s next-generation rifle optic of choice
The L3Harris Next Generation Squad Weapon – Fire Control solution. (L3Harris)

The NGSW-Fire Control effort’s overall objective is to develop a “ruggedized fire control that increases accuracy and lethality for the dismounted warfighter on the battlefield,” according to a 2019 request for proposals regarding the project.

The ideal system will consist of “a variable magnification, ballistic calculator, atmospheric sensor suite, and laser range finder,” according to the notice. “Combining these features with an in-scope digital display produces an adjusted aim-point for the Soldier within the field of view.”

The Army had previously selected both L3Harris and Vortex Optics to furnish the service with prototype fire control systems under the program’s NGSW-FC effort with plans to downselect a single winner following testing and evaluation.

This could be the Army’s next-generation rifle optic of choice
The L3Harris Next Generation Squad Weapon – Fire Control solution. (L3Harris)

The L3Harris fire control system will eventually see testing with prototypes of the NGSW’s carbine and automatic rifle variants chambered in 6.8 mm and developed by General Dynamics-OTS, AAI Corporation Textron Systems, and Sig Sauer.

So far, more than 600 soldiers and Marines have contributed thousands of hours in several “soldier touchpoints” designed to elicit direct user feedback “in operationally relevant scenarios during developmental testing,” Army spokeswoman Bridgett Siter previously told Task & Purpose. 

The NGSW program is still on pace to eventually field two weapons — a rifle and an automatic rifle — to U.S. soldiers by 2022, which will replace both the M4 carbine and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in infantry arsenals.

Related: The Army is testing a piece of SOCOM’s ‘Iron Man’ suit for its next-generation squad weapon

Jared Keller

Jared Kelleris the executive editor of Task & Purpose. His writing has appeared in Aeon, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian, and The Washington Post, among other publications. Contact the author here.

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