US Army future assault rifle by far superior to current M249 SAW and M4A1 carbine

On October 8, the U.S. Army’s chief of staff proudly announced that the 6.8mm, next-generation weapons, which will replace the M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon made by FN America, will be able to penetrate any body armor on the battlefield. "It will fire at speeds that far exceed the velocity of bullets today, and it will penetrate any existing or known body armor," General Mark Milley said. Considering their cost, the Army will likely field these new weapons to infantry and other close-combat forces only.

US Army future assault rifle by far superior to current M249 SAW and M4A1 carbine
 The 6.8mm, next-generation weapons, will replace the M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon (Picture source: US Army/DVIDS)

On October 4, as reported on We Are The Mighty, the U.S. Army's announced its plan to "award up to three prototype Other Transaction Agreements ... with each offeror developing two weapon variants and a common cartridge for both weapons, utilizing government-provided 6.8 millimeter projectiles," according to the solicitation posted on the federal contracting website FedBizzOpps."The weapons include the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle (NGSW-R) and the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR)."

The Army also intends to make follow-on production awards for "250,000 total weapons system(s) (NGSW-R, NGSW-AR, or both), 150,000,000 rounds of ammunition, spare parts, tools/gauges/accessories, and engineering support," the solicitation states. The awards could be worth "$10 million the first year and $150 million per year at the higher production rates," it adds. The solicitation comes about three months after the Army announced it had selected five weapon manufacturers to build prototypes of the next-generation squad automatic rifle. The contracts were the result of a prototype opportunities notice the Army posted in March 2018 for the small-arms industry to submit ideas for the NGSW-AR, an effort to replace the M249 squad automatic rifle.

Let’s mention one of the candidates: SIG Sauer has unveiled its belt-fed machine gun, carbine and hybrid ammunition. Originally developed to fire the 338 Norma Mag cartridge, a 7.62 NATO version was quickly developed and now they are prepared to accommodate the 6.8mm projectile and associated ballistic requirements of the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle Other Transaction Authority (OTA) currently underway. They also showed their newly developed Hybrid Ammo. It’s a three-piece metallic design which offers 20% reduction in overall cartridge weight as well as increased velocity over conventionally produced ammunition. Even better, it works in existing weapon systems and can still be produced on current ammunition lines in any arsenal.

SIG Sauer also revealed their MCX-MR (MR-Medium Range) which was initially developed for the Army’s Compact Semi Auto Sniper System. They’ve shortened it up for the upcoming Next Generation Squad Automatic Weapon Prototype Opportunity.