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The US Army has recently awarded Textron and five other gunmakers a contract to build prototype weapons for its Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle program. The contract awards are the result of a Prototype Opportunity Notice the Army released in March in an effort to develop a futuristic replacement for the three-decade-old M249.

The Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle, or NGSAR, is one of the Army’s primary efforts under its soldier lethality modernization priority, reports

The NGSAR will address operational needs identified in various capability-based assessments and numerous after action reports. It will combine the firepower and range of a machine gun with the precision and ergonomics of a rifle, yielding capability improvements in accuracy, range, and lethality. The weapon will be lightweight and fire lightweight ammunition, improving soldier mobility, survivability, and firing accuracy.

The weapon must have a sustained rate of fire of 60 rounds per minute for 15 minutes without requiring a barrel change, the PON document states.

The Army also wants ammunition to weigh 20 percent less than the current brass-cased ammos.