FN America to deliver M249 Squad Automatic Weapons to U.S. Army


FN America LLC, Columbia, South Carolina, was awarded a $78,709,973 firm-fixed-price contract for M249 Squad Automatic Weapons. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 19, 2025. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Newark, New Jersey, is the contracting activity.
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Spc. Kenny Ochoa, 2017 Army Reserve Best Warrior Soldier of the Year, qualifies with an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (Picture source: U.S. Army Reserve Command/Calvin Reymold)


The M249 light machine gun (LMG), also designated the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) which continues to be the manufacturer's designation and formally written as Light Machine Gun, 5.56 mm, M249, is the American adaptation of the Belgian FN Minimi, a light machine gun manufactured by the Belgian company FN Herstal (FN). The M249 is manufactured in the United States by the local subsidiary FN Manufacturing LLC in Columbia, South Carolina. The weapon was introduced in 1984 after being judged the most effective of a number of candidate weapons to address the lack of automatic firepower in small units. The M249 provides infantry squads with the high rate of fire of a machine gun combined with accuracy and portability approaching that of a rifle.

The M249 is gas operated and air-cooled. It has a quick-change barrel, allowing the gunner to rapidly replace an overheated or jammed barrel. A folding bipod is attached near the front of the gun, though an M192 LGM tripod is available. It can be fed from both linked ammunition and STANAG magazines, like those used in the M16 and M4. This allows the SAW gunner to use rifle magazines as a source of ammunition in case they run out of belts. However, it should only be used in emergencies due to its high malfunction rate.

M249s have seen action in every major conflict involving the United States since the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989. Due to the weight and age of the weapon, the United States Marine Corps is fielding the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle with plans to partially replace the M249 in Marine Corps service.


 

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