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    Sig Sauer Selected to Revolutionize Small Arms Capabilities for US Army

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    The Army has initiated a new era in small arms capabilities by selecting Sig Sauer to produce the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW), set to substantially increase the firepower of close combat units.

    FORT BENNING, Ga. – Soldiers of the 4th Ranger Training Battalion, Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, demonstrate the U.S. Army’s newest weapon during a Rangers in Action Ceremony September 16, 2022, at Victory Pond, Fort Benning, Georgia. The XM5 Rifle will replace the M4/M4A1 carbine within the close combat force. The new ammunition includes multiple types of tactical and training rounds that increase accuracy and are more lethal against emerging threats than both the 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Public Affairs)

    In a contract that could potentially reach $2.7 billion over the next decade, Sig Sauer will provide both the rifle and automatic rifle variants that utilize the more potent 6.8mm cartridges, aiming to revolutionize the effectiveness, range, and accuracy of the soldiers’ weapons.

    This transformational step forward in combat lethality originated from an April 2022 decision when the Army awarded Sig Sauer the contract to replace the M4A1 Carbine and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon within close combat forces.

    ‘3 Geronimo’ paratroopers qualify on M249 light machine guns at JBER” by Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    The decision underscores the Army’s determined effort to respond to evolving threats and to keep its weaponry at the forefront of technology and capability.

    Sailor fires an M249 machine gun during a small arms training.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The Army delivered the XM7 rifle and the XM250 automatic rifle, along with the advanced XM157 fire control optics, to a platoon in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in late September for testing.

    M249 Light Machine Gun mounted on Top of Special Assault Vehicle 20120211a” by 玄史生 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

    The sophisticated fire control system, developed by Vortex Optics/Sheltered Wings, integrates computer-aided ballistics, range-finding, and environmental sensors that dramatically improve accuracy and allow for rapid adjustment of fire. It’s a partnership that could yield up to 250,000 optics produced over the next decade, with a cost ceiling set at $2.7 billion.

    GR16 R4 Carbine (M4 RIS) Assault Rifle” by brian.ch is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The XM7 will ultimately replace the M4 for units such as infantry, scouts, combat engineers, and special operations forces, while the XM250 will take over the duties of the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon for these same units.

    The new systems are intended to be fielded to a yet-to-be-identified unit in the 101st by the second quarter of fiscal year 2024.

    us-marines-m4a1” by RussianTrooper is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    It is important to note that the non-close combat units will continue to carry the M4 and M249 for the foreseeable future.

    Sailors aim M4A1 at targets during a small arms qualification shoot.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The switch to the 6.8mm cartridge comes as part of the Army’s dedication to defeating enemy body armor more effectively and maintaining an edge in lethality and accuracy at increased ranges. Such ammunition advancements not only penetrate hard targets with greater ease but also maintain the capability of reaching and affecting soft targets at extended distances.

    M4A1” by Fuschia Foot is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Test demonstrations have illustrated the superior performance of the 6.8mm rounds compared to the existing 5.56mm, particularly in their ability to convert cover into mere concealment for enemy forces. The advanced XM157 optics paired with the new firearms are designed to not only enhance lethality but also maintain the essential fundamentals of marksmanship training.

    The Army’s selection of Sig Sauer for this significant upgrade also reflects the high confidence in the vendor, which was affirmed by rigorous technical tests, including over 1.5 million rounds of 6.8mm ammunition fired and extensive user acceptance assessments by soldiers.

    The NGSW program marks a pivotal advancement, as it’s the first major replacement of small arms and ammunition in six decades. Soldiers will get a more powerful, accurate, and versatile weapon system, which will transform the dynamics of close combat engagements and potentially alter the infantry’s tactical operations.

    Looking ahead, the program will continue with product qualification testing, and the Army is preparing for cold weather, tropics, and hot weather tests, with operational assessments of the systems planned for early fiscal 2025.

    With these advancements, the United States Army ensures that its soldiers are equipped with the latest and most effective tools to maintain dominance in the field of combat, addressing the challenges of modern warfare and future conflicts.

    Relevant articles:
    Army to field new rifle, machine gun and optic in 2024
    What’s the firepower like for the Army’s new rifle?
    Army moving forward with Next Generation Squad Weapon program
    Army chooses Sig Sauer to build its Next Generation Squad Weapon

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