As Army weapons officials near the end of a bold effort to arm close-combat units with Next Generation Squad Weapons, new details have emerged about the program's elusive 6.8mm ammo, designed to pierce enemy body armor.
The Army's long-standing effort to develop this revolutionary round, capable of taking on a sophisticated peer enemy on the battlefield, has required gunmakers to challenge design assumptions and innovate. Now that plans to develop and field the bullet are taking shape, it remains to be seen whether it will live up to its promise to transform the fight for infantrymen.
Just recently, the three gunmakers selected for the final phase of the effort have presented a much clearer picture of the three distinctly different cartridge designs. Both Army and industry officials have disclosed concrete information on the composition of the 6.8mm projectile and how gunmakers have designed their NGSW auto rifle and rifle candidates to cope with potential problems created by the new high-velocity ammunition.
America's lean, mean fighting machine may get a bit more lean in the coming years when it comes to ammunition. The Marine Corps is close to picking up a new polymer ammo for its tried-and-true M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun to lighten the load for grunts downrange.
U.S. Army Sgt. James R. Moore of Portland, Ore., a logitstics NCO with the 642nd Regional Support Group, shoots at the Fort Pickett rifle range as part of the Mortuary Affairs Exercise Aug. 15, 2018. (U.S. Army/Sgt. 1st Class Gary A. Witte, 642nd Regional Support Group)
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.