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The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will be supplied with new MK46 and MK48 light machine guns (FN Minimi). A $13.5 million contract has been awarded to FN America for the production and the supply of spare parts and support services.

Work is expected to be completed by August 2023.

The U.S. Special Operations Command is charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Component Commands of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force of the United States Armed Forces.

According to armyrecognition.com, the 5.56x45mm FN MK 46 MOD 1 is the lightweight U.S. special operators’ variant of the FN M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). The MK 46 MOD 1 incorporates improved receiver pins, a feed tray with retention pawls and a vented handguard with improved heat shield and three MIL-STD-1913 rails.

The MK 46 MOD 1’s cold hammer-forged MIL-SPEC barrel has a hard-chromed bore for longer life and improved accuracy, and serves as the mounting point for the carry handle. The receiver is formed steel and is equipped with a top-mounted MIL-STD-1913 optical rail. A hydraulic buffer greatly reduces recoil, helping the operator keep more rounds on target. The FN MK 48 MOD 1 brings the extended range and greater penetration of the hard-hitting 7.62x51mm round in a lighter, more compact platform. In use by U.S. special operators, it was designed to be light and compact enough to keep up with fast-moving troops as they maneuver on and close with the enemy.

The MK 48 MOD 1 can additionally augment conventional ground forces as well, when a maneuverable, lightweight larger caliber machine gun is needed.