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SOCOM Is Doubling Down On The 'Super SAW' Machine Gun
U.S. Special Operations Command plans on continuing to equip operators with FN America’s Mk 46 spec-ops designed M249 Squad Automatic Weapon variant and the beefed-up Mk 48 “super SAW,” doubling down on the two lightweight machine guns adopted nearly 15 years ago amid a major overhaul of the military’s small arms arsenal.
The Department of Defense recently awarded FN America, a South Carolina-based arms manufacturer, a $13.45 million contract to provide both the 5.56mm Mk 46 and 7.62mm Mk 48 light machine guns to SOCOM, The Firearm Blog reports. The contract represents an increase over SOCOM’s $11.5 million deal in 2010 for the two weapons, which FN specially designed for Naval Special Warfare starting back in 2004.
The Mk 46 and Mk 48, though they eclipse their SAW cousin in range, firepower, and ergonomics, have their own unique set of problems. The Mk 48 in particular “had a tendency to lose accuracy due to how much the weapon would shake during sustained firing,” The War Zone observed in May. “There were also problems with overheating and the gas system filling quickly with carbon, the latter issue leading to jamming unless operators thoroughly cleaned the weapon regularly.”
But it’s worth noting that the new contract with FN comes just a few months after SOCOM officials unveiled plans for a so-called “assault machine gun” chambered in 6.5mm Creedmoor, a smaller cartridge than the standard 7.62mm ammo that remains more effective for long-range fire support than the 5.56mm M249 SAW ammo. Here are the details of SOCOM’s new intermediate caliber ammo, per The War Zone:
In testing in 2017, special operators shooting rifles modified to fire6.5mm Creedmoor were twice as likely to hit their targets compared those using control guns in the existing 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. Special Operations Command also evaluated .260 Remington and collected data on the performance of all three types of ammunition in the FN Mk 20 Mod 0 Sniper Support Rifle, the Knight’s Armament Company M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS), and Heckler and Koch M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS).
The testing also showed that the 6.5mm versions of the weapons have 40 percent greater range and less recoil than their 7.62mm counterparts. The round was 30 percent less susceptible to wind drift, as well, making it more precise at those distances.
A briefing slide detailing the selection of the 6.5mm Creedmoor cartridgeU.S. Special Operations Command via Soldier Systems
That transition, though initially hinted at in an April 2017 Military Times report, also appears to coincide with the U.S. Army’s long-running push for an intermediate caliber for its own M249 SAW and M4 carbine replacement in the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle, albeit chambered in the slightly-larger 6.8mm, as Task & Purpose reported in May. If the Army is whipping together the NGSAR with an intermediate caliber to fix warfighters’ so-called “range gap,” then it follows that perhaps SOCOM might pursue a new “assault machine gun” as well and leave the tried-and-true MK 46/Mk 48 duo behind, right?
Maybe not: SOCOM’s move to reinvest in its Mk 48 arsenal suggests that perhaps weapons planners have managed to identify a combination of existing upgrades to the beloved “super SAW” to accommodate the intermediate caliber — a move that, as The War Zone pointed out, might actually enhance the efficiency of the occasionally buggy Mk 48 or “improve the situation with minimal effort.” Indeed, another briefing slide from SOCOM's ammo update showed the development of an "assault machine gun" chambered in 6.5mm that appears to show the Mk 48.
A briefing slide detailing the timeline for the development of an "assault machine gun" chambered in 6.5mmU.S. Special Operations Command via Soldier Systems
All of this is to say that SOCOM’s super SAW may have picked up some additional bite. After all, the new contract does include upgrades and engineering assistance from FN America, which might suggest that SOCOM plans on rejiggering the super SAW for the next big fight.
SOCOM officials did not immediately respond to request for comment from Task & Purpose, but we’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.
Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.
"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.
"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."
The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.
On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.
Trump orders dismissal of murder charge against former Green Beret accused of killing a suspected Taliban bomb maker
President Donald Trump has ended the decade-long saga of Maj. Matthew Golsteyn by ordering a murder charge against the former Green Beret dismissed with a full pardon.
The Army charged Golsteyn with murder in December 2018 after he repeatedly acknowledged that he killed an unarmed Afghan man in 2010. Golsteyn's charge sheet identifies the man as "Rasoul."
President Donald Trump has signed a full pardon for former 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who had been convicted of murder for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men, two of whom were killed.
Lorance will now be released from the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he had been serving a 19-year sentence.
"He has served more than six years of a 19-year sentence he received. Many Americans have sought executive clemency for Lorance, including 124,000 people who have signed a petition to the White House, as well as several members of Congress," said a White House statement released Friday.
"The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted. For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country. These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the President has stated, 'when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.'"
Additionally, Trump pardoned Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who was to go on trial for murder charges next year, and restored the rank of Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher, who was found not guilty of murdering a wounded ISIS prisoner but convicted of taking an unauthorized photo with the corpse.
Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth first announced on Nov. 4 that the president was expected to intervene in the Lorance case was well as exonerate Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who has been charged with murder after he admitted to killing an unarmed Afghan man whom he believed was a Taliban bomb maker, and restore Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher's rank to E-7.
For the past week, members of Lorance's family and his legal team have been holding a constant vigil in Kansas anticipating his release, said Lorance's attorney Don Brown.
Now that he has been exonerated of committing a war crime, Lorance wants to return to active duty, Brown told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.
"He loves the Army," Brown said prior to the president's announcement. "He doesn't have any animosity. He's hoping that his case – and even his time at Leavenworth – can be used for good to deal with some issues regarding rules of engagement on a permanent basis so that our warfighters are better protected, so that we have stronger presumptions favoring warfighters and they aren't treated like criminals on the South Side of Chicago."
In the Starz documentary "Leavenworth," Lorance's platoon members discuss the series of events that took place on July 2, 2012, when the two Afghan men were killed during a patrol in Kandahar province.They claim that Lorance ordered one of his soldiers to fire at three Afghan men riding a motorcycle. The three men got off their motorcycle and started walking toward Afghan troops, who ordered them to return to their motorcycle.
At that point, Lorance ordered the turret gunner on a nearby Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to shoot the three men, according to the documentary. That order was initially ignored, but the turret gunner eventually opened fire with his M-240, killing two of the men.
But Lorance told the documentary makers that his former soldiers' account of what happened was "ill-informed."
"From my experience of what actually went down, when my guy fired at it, and it kept coming, that signified hostile intent, because he didn't stop immediately," Lorance said in the documentary's second episode.
Brown argues that not only is Lorance innocent of murder, he should never have been prosecuted in the first case.
"He made a call and when you look at the evidence itself, the call was made within a matter of seconds," Brown said "He would make that call again."
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