Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Army Is Testing A New Rifle With Better Range And Accuracy Than The M4
To paraphrase the legendary military theorist Carl von Clausewitz: Everything in small arms is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has waged a relentless war against the Department of Defense’s acquisition process (hereafter referred to as “purgatory”) to replace the decades-old weapons currently in soldiers’ kit with new pistols and other small arms. So far, he’s had some major successes on the pistol front with the Army’s adoption of the Sig Sauer P320 as the XM17 to replace the M9 Beretta as the branch’s sidearm of choice.
But finding an upgrade for the M4 carbine has proven a more elusive challenge. In November, the Army’s plans to purchase a 7.62 mm off-the-shelf rifle as an intermediate solution finally gave up the ghost after months of budget-related uncertainty.
Now, the Army is currently evaluating a rifle that could actually be fielded relatively soon, Milley said Wednesday at an Association of the United States Army event in Crystal City, Virginia.
“There have been some research and testing done down at Fort Benning, [Georgia] and with industry partners that indicates that we could — it’s possible — have a rifle in the hands of American soldiers or Marines in the not too distant future — I don’t want to put a timeline — that can reach out at much greater ranges than currently exist with much greater impact or lethality and with much greater accuracy,” Milley said.
The rifle’s increased lethality can be attributed to the type of ammunition it uses, its chamber pressure and its optics, Milley said at AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare breakfast. He did not reveal any specific information about the rifle, such as whether it chambers a 5.56mm or a 7.62mm round or if it is fully automatic, like the M27 infantry automatic rifle used by the Marines.
“It’s an excellent system,” Milley said. “They’ve done some proof of principles on it. It is real. It is not fantasy and industry is moving out quickly and we expect that, with appropriate funding, we should be able to have this particular weapon in the not too distant future – I won’t define what ‘not too distant future’ is.”
Although Milley said that soldiers currently have a rifle capable of matching adversaries anywhere in the world, the problems with the M4 and M16 have been well documented.
The M4s biggest design flaw is its gas impingement operating system, which can easily be fouled, causing the weapon to jam, said retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales.
“That’s the fatal flaw of the M4,” Scales told Task & Purpose. “You cannot fix it.”
Scales has long advocated that the Army needs a rifle with a solid action — such as the Heckler & Koch HK416 — in which all the recoiling parts operate together as a single system. The Marines currently use the HK416 as the M27.
Ideally, the Army’s rifle should fire a round between 6.5mm and 6.8mm, which is highly accurate because it retains supersonic velocity longer than existing military calibers, and it also generates less recoil so fully automatic fire is more stable, he said.
The Army’s next rifle should also include a suppressor, because troops initially fire at muzzle flashes and sounds of gunshots in a close fight, Scales said.
“As near peer adversaries like Russia and China continue to expand their military capabilities, we can no longer afford to sacrifice modernization. From rifles, to shipbuilding, to missile defense, it is critical that the U.S. maintains a competitive edge over countries that wish us harm,” Sen, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Wednesday in a statement to Task & Purpose.
“The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act included my amendment to authorize the expedited procurement of a commercially available off-the-shelf item for a 7.62mm rifle, and as a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, I will continue pushing for our military to have the tools they need and have asked for to complete their missions and remain lethal.”
For the time being, soldiers will have to wait until the Army can develop and field an M4 replacement. It is unclear whether the enemy will wait until the new rifle is ready.
Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal officially endorsed Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) for president on July 18. A former Marine infantry officer who deployed to Iraq four times, Moulton joined McChrystal on MSNBC to discuss the endorsement, and whether he's bothered that he hasn't found a spot on the crowded Democratic debates so far.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer shot down an Iranian drone Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz, President Donald Trump announced.
"The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone which had closed into a very, very near distance – approximately 1,000 yards – ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship's crew," Trump said during a White House ceremony. "The drone was immediately destroyed."
"This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters," he continued. "The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities, our interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran's attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce. I also call on other nations to protect their ships as they go through the Strait and to work with us in the future."
The Army may be celebrating its prized Army Futures Command (AFC) reaching full operational capability, but the organization's leaders still have quite a to-do list in front of them.
AFC commander Gen. John Murray briefed reporters on Thursday alongside Bruce Jette, the Army's Assistant Secretary of Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, on the progress of the Army's modernization roadmap and what's coming down the pipe to help soldiers soldiers win the conflicts of the future.
But while that lawmakers skirted questions on the war in Afghanistan during former Secretary of the Army Mark Esper's confirmation hearing for defense secretary this week, AFC's top priority remains, first and foremost, the soldiers fighting in conflict zones right now.
The official trailer for Top Gun: Maverick is here, and if you were praying to God there would be another volleyball scene, you are in luck.
Slated to hit theaters in 2020, the sequel to 1986 classic features Tom Cruise back in the role of Maverick, only this time he's a Navy captain behind the stick of an F/A-18 Hornet.
The two-minute trailer features a number of throwbacks to the original Top Gun: There's Maverick pulling the cover off his motorcycle and driving down the flight line, a shirtless volleyballer (there was no way you would have escaped this), and a piano-playing scene with Great Balls of Fire, my man.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the film also stars Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, and Ed Harris. The film hits theaters on June 26, 2020.
Watch the trailer below:
Top Gun: Maverick - Official Trailer (2020) - Paramount Pictures www.youtube.com