U.S. Army just a breath away from the Next Generation of squad weapons
The Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons program– which plans to replace the 5.56 NATO caliber M4 Carbine and M249 SAW with two new man-portable weapons that share a common 6.8mm caliber– is right around the corner from becoming a reality.
In the past week, Picatinny Arsenal and Project Manager– Soldier Lethality, have issued a $20 million contract for Olin-Winchester to set up the Lake City Army ammo plant for the production of the new 6.8mm rounds in General Purpose (GP), Special Purpose (SP), Reduced Range (RR), and blank cartridges.
This was almost immediately followed up by the selection of Wisconsin-based Vortex to supply as many as a quarter-million optics for the country’s planned Next Generation Weapons platforms. The 10-year contract, announced late last week, covers the production and delivery of up to 250,000 XM157 Next Generation Squad Weapons-Fire Control systems.
With the ammo being set up for production and the optics package selected, all that is left for the NGSW program is to announce the winner of the contract for the weapons themselves. The current contenders for that award, as listed by the Army, are SIG Sauer, General Dynamics– OTS, and Textron Systems.
An award is likely sometime in the coming weeks and would stand to become the biggest change in combat small arms since Curtis LeMay ordered a batch of early AR-15s from Colt for his USAF Security Police in 1962.
I sure hope the Vortex optics don’t rely on parts or production from China!!
To be sure, Sig and others usually have a low-cost/budget line with parts from overseas, then run a better, more top-shelf line made to tighter tolerances with U.S. and European input. I’m sure for the price Uncle is paying for these ($10K a pop!) Vortex will be making these here (or in Switzerland for that kinda cash).
I am hoping that means a replacement for SA80 / L85Ax is on the horizon too for our UK forces.