The U.S. Army is looking to buy somewhere in the range of 100,000 of a very capable, lethal rifles under the Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW) program and 6.8-millimeter ammunition.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley on 10 April said that somewhere in the range of 100,000 of NGSW will initially be purchased for Soldiers who engage in close-quarters combat.
According to the U.S. Army Contracting Command officials, the new weapons will include the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle (NGSW-R) and the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR).
The NGSW-R is the planned replacement for the M4/M4A1 Carbine and the NGSW-AR is the planned replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) in the Automatic Rifleman Role in the Close Combat Force.
It is expected that new-generation of Army’s rifles will be fire at speeds that far exceed the velocity of bullets today and it will penetrate any existing body armor or body armor expected to exist over the next 25 years.
The Small Arms Ammunition Configuration (SAAC) study, completed in 2017, identified potential weapon system approaches that can address the operational needs of the U.S. Army.
The new rifles will use an advanced lightweight 6.8mm cartridge, known as the XM1186. According to The Drive, this new round promises to have better range, improved accuracy at longer distances, and greater armor penetration capability over the existing 5.56x45mm ammunition the service uses now. The Army’s 2020 Fiscal Year budget request says the service is also developing a “special purpose” variant of the 6.8mm round, known as the XM1184, but does not explain how the two cartridges differ.
This sophisticated weapon also will have a modern sight system that integrates into Soldiers’ gear that incorporates the latest in information technology.
“The NGSW-AR is the first in a series of capabilities to modernize the weapons of the dismounted maneuver force,” Col. Elliott Caggins, project manager, Soldier Weapons said in September 2018.
The goal of NGSW is to improve lethality, mobility and situational awareness of the dismounted infantryman, scout and engineer to overcome our nation’s adversaries and win on the battlefield.
Col. Elliott Caggins also added that: “NGSW capitalizes on advancing technologies to provide increased performance at range, integrated Squad Fire Control (S-FC) systems, improved ergonomics of the weapon, lightweight case technologies, signature suppression capabilities and Intelligent and powered rail designs through systems integration.”
The Army hopes to have them out on the range at Fort Benning, Georgia, hopefully by this summer.
“We look forward to it. It’s exciting. But we don’t want to speak too much about its technical capabilities because our adversaries watch these things very closely, so we prefer to keep the technical details out of the news,” he stressed.
Furthermore, on 19 April, Army Contracting Command posted an explained on the U.S. government’s main contracting website, that production awards for NGSW may include 250,000 total weapons systems (NGSW-R, NGSW-AR, or both) and 150,000,000 rounds of ammunition.