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

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.

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

The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.

Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.

Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.

There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.

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The sun may not be out, but the guns certainly are.

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, AAI Corporation Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. were all chosen in August as finalists for developing the Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon, one of the service's primary modernization priorities, and all three companies were touting their best best rifle and automatic rifle prototypes at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference last week.

Task & Purpose stopped by the General Dynamics booth at AUSA to get a better look at their prototypes for the Army's next rifle of choice.

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The Army says it's settled on three defense contractors to battle it out to become the service's M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements, but at least one other company is hoping that a bit of consumer approval could help upset the competition.

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If the Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon program is supposed to produce the iPhone of lethality, then the service is looking for as many killer apps as possible.

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