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That Time The Army Nearly Replaced The M16 With The Pulse Rifle From ‘Demolition Man’
Decades before the U.S. military transitioned away from the M16 assault rifle
in favor of the lightweight M4 carbine, the Army eyed an unusual-looking replacement for the Vietnam-era rifle: The boxy Heckler & Koch G11, the very same weapon that would appear years later as a futuristic energy rifle in the batshit crazy 1993 sci-fi action comedy Demolition Man.
Well, not the exact same weapon. The H&K G11, in development by NATO partners since the late 1960s, was one of four submissions tested in the late '80s by U.S. officials as part of the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) program that sought a rifle with a superior hit probability to the M16 of "spray and pray" fame.
The Heckler & Koch G11(Heckler & Koch)
The sleek gas-operated G11 was particularly noteworthy for chambering 4.72x33mm caseless ammunition and a bullpup design intended to eliminate the ejection cycle. A 1990 Army video on the ACR program claimed the rifle could fire in burst at an eye-popping rate of 2,100 rounds per minute (with a full-auto option at 400 rounds per minute).
The Heckler & Koch G11 in action(U.S. Army)
Unfortunately, none of the submissions to the ACR program proved a compelling replacement for the M16A2 currently in use, and the program ended in 1990 after $300 million spent. H&K; attempted to tailor the unusual G11 to military planners in its home country of Germany, but the end of the Cold War and reunification of the nation forced the G11 into obscurity with only 1,000 rifles ever produced.
Until 1993, that is. The rifle would see sort-of combat in an unusual new form as the "Magnetic Accelerator" 1X.31A particle weapons pilfered from a museum armory exhibit in 2032 by insane convict Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) in Demolition Man.
The rifle itself was just a mockup cast of the G11, loaned to the production team by H&K; and outfitted with a bunch of embellishments and accessories fit for a Hollywood blockbuster.
According to the Internet Movie Firearms Database (the greatest website in the history of mankind), Demolition Man is the only movie that has featured the G11 in all its futuristic glory (although it's appeared in military gaming franchises like Fallout and Call of Duty). And frankly, that's a damn shame, because when T&P staff first stumbled across the Army's 1990 ACR video pitching the G11, we had the same thought as Phoenix: "Wait a minute, this is the future. Where are all the phaser guns?"
The Magnetic Accelerator rifle(Demolition Man)
There's still a chance, maybe! Way back in 2004, the Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) program borrowed technology from the G11 to explore the integration of the rifle's caseless ammo system into a new Army light machine gun prototype — a move that suggests maybe, just maybe, some element of this boxy cannon could feel the ninja grip of combat troops some day.
Of course, that was 15 years ago, so it seems like a longshot. Until then, I'll just be watching the museum shootout sequence on repeat — and wondering how to use those three seashells.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 18, 2018
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has confirmed that a nightmare scenario has come to pass: Captured ISIS fighters are escaping as a result of Turkey's invasion of Kurdish-held northeast Syria.
Turkey's incursion has led to "the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees," Esper said in a statement on Monday.
Video footage of a purported "bombing of Kurd civilians" by Turkish military forces shown on ABC News appeared to be a nighttime firing of tracer rounds at a Kentucky gun range.
The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.
On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.