It's official: After months of testing, the Army is moving forward with an intermediate round between the traditional 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibers for its M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements.
In the early 1990s, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps introduced a new weapon designed to radically boost the firepower of infantry squads. The M249 squad automatic weapon, or SAW, fired the same ammunition as the M16A2 rifle at a rapid rate of fire and was more compact than the gun it replaced. Although controversial, the M249 still serves today in the U.S. Army and U.S special operations forces worldwide.
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 Marines want to give infantry riflemen the deadliest automatic rifle available, but Congress is holding up the plans, concerned that the Corps and the Army may end up fielding the weapons in completely different calibers.
The Army has officially canceled its search for an off-the-shelf 7.62mm Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) meant to replace the standard-issue M4 carbine — a major setback in the branch’s search for a new infantry rifle to augment soldier lethality.