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US Advanced Optics Programmes

Off-the-Shelf Solutions for Next-Generation Capabilities

Advances in weapon optics have been extremely rapid in recent years. The US military response has been to acquire what are effectively off-the-shelf solutions to rapidly field a new generation of optics. Three programmes are worthy of note.

In February 2020 Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) awarded Trijicon an ID/IQ contract with a maximum value of $64 million (€54.5 million) for 19,000 VCOG 1-8×28 optics for the USMC Squad Common Optic (SCO) programme. MCSC noted that contract award came only six months after seeking industry proposals to meet the SCO requirement. It will be used on the M27 and M4/M4A1 weapons and will replace the existing Rifle Common Optic (RCO) and Squad Day Optic (SDO). The SCO will cover close quarter battle and extended range engagements, up to and well beyond 600m; deliveries will commence in FY2021 and complete in FY2023.

The US Army has two current efforts. First is the Mounted Machine Gun Optic (MMO), to provide solutions for the M240 machinegun, the M2/M2A1 heavy machinegun and the Mk19 automatic grenade launcher. The objective is faster target acquisition and increased first-burst kill probability. Three companies have been selected to compete for the MMO: Trijicon is offering solutions for the M240 and M2/M2A1; Raytheon Canada is offering solutions for all three weapons; so is BCF Solutions. Eventual MMO contract value is approx. $48 million.

Second, the Direct View Optics (DVO) programme, with up to 120,000 systems required, will replace the current ACOG on the M4A1 carbine. According to the solicitation, “The DVO will be capable of variable power magnification with minimum magnification of 1.0x with no rounding and maximum magnification greater than or equal to 6.0 power. Variable power magnification optics combine the capabilities of the non-magnified optic’s ability to engage close quarter targets with a fixed-magnification optic’s ability to detect, recognise, identify, and precisely engage targets at extended ranges.”

Work on DVO commenced in July 2019 with the release of a Prototype Project Opportunity Notice that solicited industry solutions. Within 15 months, after a full evaluation process, SIG Sauer has been selected as the DVO winner – though MON requests for further comment remain unanswered. Clearly the US military continues to invest in improving the capability of its optics: a process set to continue, with the MMO programme yet to be decided.

David Saw reporting from Paris for MON

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