The Army is almost doubling its purchase of new bolt-action Precision Sniper Rifles as its primary anti-personnel sniper system of choice, according to budget documents.
The Army wants to purchase 536 Precision Sniper Rifles (PSR) for a total of $10.13 million, according to the service's fiscal year 2019 budget request, an increase over the 357 systems that the service initially purchased for $5.74 million in fiscal year.
Alton Stewart, a spokesman for the Army's PEO Soldier, confirmed to Task & Purpose that the service intends to replace both the M107 sniper rifle and M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle with the PSR.
The Army's PSR, based on Barrett Firearms' bolt-action Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) system and dubbed the Mk 22, will be chambered in 7.62×51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum with the help of a separate conversion kit.
The PSR will eventually become the “primary anti-personnel sniper weapons system” for all of the service's sniper teams, according to Army budget documents, offering “improved accuracy in a lighter weight package” over the standard M107 system
In addition, the PSR “provides increased probability of hit over the current M2010 [Enhanced Sniper Rifle] configuration at distances up to twelve-hundred (1200) meters and increases range out to fifteen-hundred (1500), which enhances the sniper role in supporting combat operations and improves sniper survivability,” according to Army budget documents.
The system also includes a sound suppressor and direct view optics with fire control capabilities which “allows snipers, when supplemented with a clip-on image intensifier or thermal sensor system, to effectively engage enemy snipers, as well as crew served and indirect fire weapons virtually undetected in any light condition,” according to Army budget documents.
U.S. Special Operations Command originally developed a PSR, dubbed the Mk 21 Precision Sniper Rifle, with Remington Arms' Modular Sniper Rifle chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum and .338 Lapua Magnum in 2013 before initiating the command's Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) program as a replacement.
But according to The War Zone, SOCOM hasn't issued a PSR-related contract since 2015, and the command has since shifted its focus to procuring an ASR based on Barrett's MRAD system, which was originally developed as a contender for SOCOM's PSR contract.
“The Army PSR program is adapting the rifle selected under the SOCOM ASR program,” Stewart explained. “The initial rifle selected (Remington MSR, Mk21) did not conform to SOCOM requirements at the time and the program was re-competed with the Barrett MRAD (Mk22) selected as the rifle solution.”
It's worth noting that the MRAD is the same sniper system the Marine Corps also wants to procure under SOCOM's ASR program as part of the service's fiscal year 2021 budget request.
The Army's request for 536 sniper systems is just the beginning. According to budget documents, the service plans on purchasing an additional 1,516 PSR systems between fiscal years 2022 and 2025, bringing the service's arsenal to 2,545 at an estimated cost of $45.476 million through fiscal year 2025.
The service plans to begin fielding of the PSR as the Mk 22 starting in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021.
Barrett did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Update: This post has been updated to include comment from PEO Soldier