Virtual AUSA 2020 Briefing
The US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW) programme is an iterative, prototyping effort to increase squad-level lethality in defeating proliferating threats. It consists of a Rifle (NGSW-R) and Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR), with a common 6.8mm cartridge and Fire Control (NGSW-FC). It aims to equip the Close Combat Force with the NGSW-R to replace the M4A1, with the NGSW-AR replacing the M249 SAW.
Three bidders are fielding candidates for weapons and ammunition: SIG Sauer; General Dynamics-OTS; and Textron Systems – and two for fire control: Vortex Optics and L3Harris. At the Virtual AUSA event on 12 October, Textron provided further details on the approach of its team, which includes Heckler & Koch (HK) and Winchester. The bidders are all working to meet the Army’s First Unit Equip goal of FY2022.
Wayne Prender, Senior VP of Applied Technologies & Advanced Programmes, explained the team is coming in to “the homestretch of delivering our weapon and ammo systems for record to the government, and […] entering the next phase [Prototype Test 2].” Deliveries under Test 1 consisted of “about 30 weapons – 15 rifles and 15 ARs – and more than 185,000 rounds of ammunition.” These deliveries were designed to provide the Army with interim end-user feedback to help suppliers mature their processes and move on to Phase 2. The weapons went through ‘solder touch points’ at multiple sites with users from special and conventional forces, service test personnel, and external subject matter experts. “We’re finalising improvements, releasing for manufacturing, and preparing to build, test and deliver our Prototype 2 weapon system,” Prender added. Some 38 rifles, 28 ARs and over 680,000 rounds will be delivered.
The NGWS ammunition offering “centers around our cased telescoped, polymer ammunition. This is a unique configuration of the ammunition which we believe has many advantages, certainly over traditional brass, but even over other configurations of advanced ammunition,” Prender explained. Its telescoped nature “[…] allows us to shrink the overall dimension of the round, thereby shrinking the overall length of the weapon, or allotting more length to a component such as the barrel. It also allows us to fully support and secure the ammunition. This is extremely important in a polymer application, that has the ability to expand and allow the polymer to not carry the ballistic load.” That load is instead carried by the weapon: “This is an advantage for us,” he declared, concluding by stating the team is “actively working to prepare and develop blank ammunition and blank ammunition adapters to our weapon system for follow-on testing.”
Marty Kauchak Reporting for MON from New Orleans