The U.S. Army is expected to receive the first new squad automatic weapons to front-line or «close-combat» units in 2022, informed Military.com news agency referring to U.S. Army Lieutenant General Paul Ostrowski, the Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.
Military.com was first to report that Army weapons officials recently awarded contracts to five firms to develop prototypes of the NGSAR. It will have to be five pounds lighter than the full-size M249 and fire ammo that’s lighter and more potent than the service’s current 5.56-mm round.
According to Defence-blog.com, the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) may replace about 80,000 SAWs (the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon). The well-known M249 SAWs were already beasts – now the Army’s light machine gun is going to get even more powerful.
Armed with the NGSARs, soldiers will have the confidence of knowing the new weapon can be relied on for stopping power against sophisticated adversaries who arrive to fight in advanced body armour.
Last year, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Congress that the M855A1 will not defeat enemy body armor plates similar to the U.S. military-issued Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.
«We know that the 5.56-mm is not going to be the round of the future because we have issues associated with adversaries’ body armor», Ostrowski said.
The solution will likely be a cartridge that uses lighter material than brass for the casing.
Also, thefirearmblog.com noted that on the 12 July the US Army Contracting Command, New Jersey, posted an update announcing the award of five separate Fixed Priced, Full and Open Competition prototype Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs). These were awarded to the following companies:
- AAI Corporation Textron Systems – Hunt Valley,
- FN America LLC. – Columbia,
- General Dynamics-OTS Inc. – Williston,
- PCP Tactical, LLC – Vero Beach,
- Sig Sauer Inc. – Newington.
The OTA award notice explains: «These Prototype OTA’s will be for the manufacture and development of a Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) system demonstrator representative of a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 and Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) 6. The expected Prototype OTA duration is twelve months after award. The Prototype OTA’s were awarded on 25 June 2018».
The demonstrators are to be ready by June 2019 for the first phase of practical testing. Technology Readiness Level 6 and Manufacturing Readiness Level 6 means a demonstration weapon which represents a major step forward in demonstrated readiness which can be built in a production relevant environment. This represents the development approaching the mid-way point.