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The Air Force is now fielding a brand new sniper rifle replacement

The squad designated marksmanship rifle will replace the M24 sniper rifle and the M110 semi-automatic sniper system with Air Force pararescuemen and explosive ordnance technicians
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Air Force rifle
The Squad Designated Marksmanship Rifle is tested on a range at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., April 13, 2022. The SDMR is a semi-automatic, 7.62x51mm caliber rifle designed by Heckler & Koch for missions requiring combat over-watch with precision-fire capability to accurately engage targets up to 600 meters. (Shaun Ferguson/U.S. Air Force)

The Air Force will be the latest branch to start fielding the new squad designated marksmanship rifle. 

In a statement last week, the Air Force announced that it is finalizing delivery and fielding of approximately 1,446 of the rifles. 

“We’re excited to field this incredible weapon system,” said Matthew Hamer, the small arms program office lead. “Being able to field one solution that can effectively achieve multiple missions epitomizes Air Force acquisition strategies and shows Airmen ability to adapt to any situation.”

Built by Heckler & Koch, the semi-automatic 7.62mm rifle was first designed for the Army as a means to fill the gap between the standard issue rifle and sniper rifle in engaging targets at 300-600 meters. The rifle can accurately engage targets up to 600 meters and is designed for missions requiring combat overwatch and precision-fire capability.

It’s also lighter weight than comparable 7.62mm systems, saving operators five pounds while on missions.

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The squad designated marksmanship rifle was first formally fielded by soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Armored Division in 2020. 

Based on the 7.62mm M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS), it was designed as a replacement for the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) to provide Army snipers with improved effective range and a more lightweight and less cumbersome rifle.

“This weapon is an upgrade to the whole squad layout, and you can even work it in to combined arms warfare.” said Army Sgt. Patrick Nissen, a scout from the Brigade’s 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, in a June 2020 statement. “I shoot long range, both in the Army and recreationally, and I really like getting down behind this weapon, it is very comfortable, it is a great rifle, and I really do enjoy it.” 

For the Air Force, it will serve in missions “requiring combat over-watch with precision-fire capability” with multiple units. 

For Air Force security forces, the new rifle is replacing the M24 Sniper Weapons System. It will also replace the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System with pararescuemen and guardian angels who conduct personnel recovery. 

The squad designated marksmanship rifle will also be employed by Air Force explosive ordnance disposal technicians. 

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