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The U.S. Army is reportedly developing new weapons to replace the current M249 squad automatic weapon and the M4A1 carbine. The new 6.8mm next-generation weapons will be able to penetrate any body armor on the battlefield.
According to Gen. Mark Milley, “it will fire at speeds that far exceed the velocity of bullets today, and it will penetrate any existing or known … body armor that’s out there. What I have seen so far from the engineers and the folks that put these things together, this is entirely technologically possible.”
The service will likely field these cutting-edge weapons to infantry and other close-combat forces, hopefully by late next summer in 2019, according to military.com.
According to a solicitation posted on the federal contracting website FedBizzOpps, the U.S. military plans 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. The weapons include the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle (NGSW-R) and the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR).”
The solicitation comes about three months after the Army announced it had selected five gun makers to build prototypes of the next-generation squad automatic rifle.
Details on the recent prototype contracts are still scarce, but according to Milley there were “several prototypes that were advanced forward.”
He added that the Army will likely not “speak too much about its technical capabilities because our adversaries watch these things very closely.”
“It’s a very sophisticated weapon, a very capable weapon. It’s got an integrated sight system to it, and it also integrates into the soldier’s gear and other equipment that we are fielding,” Milley said. “And not surprisingly with a weapon like that, it’s probably pretty expensive. We expect it to be expensive so we are probably not going to field the entire Army with this weapon.”