I can hardly believe my eyes here. In the last few weeks a couple of stories hit the industry editorial sphere that show a trend in Military Small Arms. They’re evolving, fast.
From Soldiers Systems here is the 5,000 unit solicitation for the new machine gun similar to the one pictured above for SOCOM and the USMC.
Here too the US Army is looking at fielding an ISCR/IBR
Further solicitations over the past couple months have shown US SOCOM and the conventional infantry forces of the USMC and US Army are looking to invest heavily in upgrading their small arms capabilities.
The LWMMG solicitation is the most forward and furthest advanced in the the procurement process and we’ve seen requirements for new rifles come and go many times. From the XM8 to today the US Military is keeping its eye on evolving technology but rarely moves forward more than minor increments. The current fielded state of military small arms is 10-30 years behind the firearms industry.
The reason these new solicitations seem more promising is that the US Military is no longer tying itself to legacy systems. More specifically legacy calibers, 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm. The new LWMMG is in .338 Norma Magnum (8.6x63mm) and the Intermediate Battle Rifle is, from inception, only looking to stay in 7.62x51mm until a new round is determined.
The US Military is actively looking to modernize its small arms. The current legacy systems are designs that originated in the 1950s and are pretty much at their design evolutionary limits. To improve the system’s core capabilities the round it fires needed to change
Free floating barrels, M-LOK, Variable Optics/Reflex Optics, The M17 MHS, and now the Light Weight Medium Machine Gun (LWMMG) solicitation to surpass the GPMG/MMG systems currently fielded all point towards the largest shift in infantry capabilities we’ve had since the M16 and M60 were fielded.