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.
The U.S. Army is looking for a new weapon for infantry troops. After a half-century of using the M16/M4 carbine series of weapons, the Army is looking for a weapon with increased range and lethality to deal with future threats. Although the search is still in its early stages, looking at the threats and the current state of small arms technology we can get an idea of what the service might shoot for — figuratively speaking — in a new soldier weapon.
North Korea should by all rights be a naval power. A country sitting on a peninsula, Korea has a long naval tradition, despite being a “shrimp” between the two “whales” of China and Japan. However, the partitioning of Korea into two countries in 1945 and the stated goal of unification —by force if necessary—lent the country to build up a large army, and reserving the navy for interdiction and special operations roles. Now, in the twenty-first century, the country’s navy is set to be the sea arm of a substantial nuclear deterrent.
For much of the mid-twentieth century, handgun development was in a period of stagnation. The development of the semiautomatic pistol had ushered in a new weapon that, although more complex than a revolver, had a higher ammunition capacity. Quickly adopted by armies around the world, the steel-framed semiautomatic reigned for decades. Then, in the 1980s, something came along that disrupted the firearms industry: the Glock pistol. Today it’s carried by armies worldwide, from the U.S. Army Rangers to the British Armed Forces.
Nearly a hundred years ago the U.S. Navy asked a question: if airplanes can fly through the air, why couldn’t a vessel carrying them fly through the air as well? The result was the Akron-class airships, the only flying aircraft carriers put into service in any country. Although promising, a pair of accidents—prompted by the airship’s limitations—destroyed the flying carrier fleet and ended development of the entire concept.