You've probably heard the phrase “new year, new you,” but that takes on new meaning when it comes to the essential equipment of the U.S. military.
U.S. soldiers and Marines can expect to see a slew of new gear in their kits at the start of the next decade, from improved body armor to better sniper rifles and grenade launchers.
Here's a brief look at the fresh new gear headed downrange to U.S. infantry troops in the new year.
Improved night vision goggles
Soldiers from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, are the first to receive the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular and the Family of Weapon Sights – Individual.
(U.S. Army/Sgt. 1st Class Chris Bridson)
The Army finally began fielding the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular (ENVG-B) to soldiers with the 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team back in September, furnishing soldiers from “The Big Red One” with a new system that ditches the telltale green tint of standard-issue night vision gear for the glorious clarity of white phosphor image intensifier tubes.
U.S. Marines with the Aviation Combat Element, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, compare green (left) and white phosphor (right) night vision goggles during professional military education, RAAF Base Darwin, Australia, June 18, 2019(U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Kealii De Los Santos)
Also in September, the Marine Corps awarded a $249 million contract to the Harris Corporation of Virginia to furnish infantry Marines with 14,000 Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle (SBNVG) systems that rock similar white phosphor tubes, an upgrade Marine Corps Systems Command plans on doling out to infantry units starting in the spring of 2020.
New protective gear for soldiers
Lt. Col. Ginger Whitehead, product manager for Soldier protection equipment at Program Executive Office Soldier, points to the maxillofacial protection on the new Integrated Head Protection System, or IHPS, that saved a Soldier's life recently in Afghanistan when a brick was thrown at his neck.(U.S. Army/Gary Sheftick)
After years in development, the Army in March began fielding its brand new body armor, combat helmet, and protective gear to soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, and Army officials say that the Integrated Head Protective System (IHPS) in particular is already getting the job done for soldiers downrange. Be prepared to see it turn up in an armory near you sooner than you think.
New sidearms for Marines (and even more soldiers)
The M18 at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia on April 17, 2019
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)
While the Army began fielding the Sig Sauer P320 that the Pentagon adopted as the M17 under the Modular Handgun System in 2017, Marines will finally get their hands on the compact M18 variant starting in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020 — right on the heels of thousands of soldiers who are snapping up their pistols ahead of schedule thanks to Sig Sauer's industriousness.
Upgraded Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles for soldiers and Marines?
Marines test the new M3E1 Multi-role, Anti-armor, Anti-personnel, Weapons System (MAAWS) at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on July 12, 2018(U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Timothy J. Lutz)
In February, the Army inked a multi-year agreement with Saab Dynamics AB for a $19 million delivery of upgraded, multi-shot M3E1 Carl Gustaf 84mm recoilless rifles to replace the service's existing M3 systems. In the meantime, the Marine Corps will likely start fielding the Carl Gustaf to replace the service's existing arsenal MK153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapons (SMAW) it's traditionally used for bunker-busting.
This is great on its own, but the fact that is Saab is also working on laser-guided munitions for the system in conjunction with Raytheon makes the coming upgrade in Carl Gustaf firepower even more … explosive?
A (sort of) new grenade launcher for Marines
A Marine with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion takes aim with the M320 grenade launcher while out on a range at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on June 6, 2017.
(U.S. Marine Corps/Pfc. Taylor Cooper)
After years of testing, the Marine Corps is poised to field the M320A1 grenade launcher to infantry squads as a replacement for the underslung M203, a move that will finally give grunts a 40mm grenade launcher that both Army soldiers — and civilian fans of the Battlefield video game franchise — have enjoyed for a decade.
A fresh sniper system for Marines
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Atthaporn Suwanarat sights in with the Mk13 Mod 7 Sniper Rifle aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, January 17, 2019
(U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Bryan Nygaard)
Why wait until 2020? The Mk13 Mod 7 sniper rifle that the Marine Corps selected as a much-needed and long-overdue replacement for the M40 sniper system that Marines have wielded since the Vietnam War finally hit full operational capacity earlier this year after extensive testing, and the new system is now available in both scout snipers and recon Marine arsenals.
Bonus: Definitely not the Next Generation Squad Weapon
Sorry folks. While Army modernization officials told Congress in April that the service will begin fielding the 6.8mm Next Generation Squad Weapon as a replacement for the M249 squad automatic weapons and M4/M4A1 carbine in fall 2021, officials clarified the following July that the service likely wouldn't actually select a final design for the rifle until the first quarter of 2022.
At this rate, plan for fielding around 2030 at the earliest (just kidding… we hope).