Arizona Army National Guard soldiers with the 160th and 159th Financial Management Support Detachments qualify with the M249 squad automatic weapon at the Florence Military Reservation firing range on March 8, 2019. (U.S. Army/Spc. Laura Bauer)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

U.S. Army modernization officials told Congress recently that the service will begin fielding the 6.8mm weapons that will replace M249 squad automatic weapons and M4/M4A1 carbines in fall 2021.

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A Textron light machine gun with caseless, telescoped ammo (Textron Systems)

Army officials may have some lofty aspirations for the service's much-hyped Next Generation Squad Weapon, but at least they finally have an honest-to-God prototype to play with.

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The Army isn't on the hunt for any old rifle for it's Next Generation Squad Weapon program — it's looking to spark a "revolution in small arms" on par with what the iPhone did to consumer electronics.

At least, that's how Army officials at the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey described their overall goal in a conversation with Task & Purpose following the release of a formal Prototype Project Opportunity Notice calling on industry partners for a rapid prototyping and testing run of the brand-new platform.

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The Army has issued a formal call for industry partners to send in their prototypes for the Next Generation Squad Weapon program, a major step towards finally testing out a replacement for the M4 carbine and M249 squad automatic weapon.

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DoD photo/ Spc. Austin Berne

Editor’s Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.

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The Army claims its new assault rifle will unleash a hailstorm of specially-designed shells with as much chamber pressure as a battle tank to tear through even the most advanced body armor — and if all goes according to plan, the soldiers will get them to play with sooner than they thought.

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