Tag Archives: U.S. Army

Redlegs Stretch theirs out to 70 Clicks

Who says Tube Arty is irrelevant? The Army contends they have made the longest distance precision-guided shot in history using one.

The Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA), designated the XM1299 howitzer, was developed in 2019 by BAE Systems. Based on the pre-existing M109A7 Paladin, it uses a much-longer XM907 155mm/58 caliber gun rather than the legacy 155/39, as well as a host of other improvements above the turret ring, and is planned to enter service in 2Q FY2023.

From an Army Presser:

The first successful test of a 70 km (43 miles) shot with a precision-guided munition took place on December 19, 2020 at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground.

The live fire demonstration used the Excalibur projectile and was the culmination of a campaign of learning on multiple systems.

“Not only did the test show the design robustness of a current fielded projectile to demonstrate lethality at extended ranges, it did so while maintaining accuracy, marking a major milestone in support of Long Range Precision Fires objectives of achieving overmatch artillery capability in 2023,” said Col. Anthony Gibbs, Project Manager for Combat Ammunition Systems.

Providing longer range than that of potential adversaries, is a significant combat multiple for maneuver commanders and the Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team (LRPF-CFT) was established to tackle that objective. Their mission includes increasing lethality, improving rates of fire, and enabling deep fires to shape the battlefield and set conditions for the brigade combat team close fight.

Multiple efforts including new propellant charges, an Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) system, multiple projectiles with varying capabilities, and target identification and tracking systems, are under development to increase range and reduce the time from target identification to effects on target.

Personally, I’d like to see one or two of these guns navalised and put in low-profile mounts on the Zumwalts, perhaps alongside if not in place of the fabled Naval Rail Gun system, replacing the failed 155mm AGS. But that would make too much sense. 

NGSW? Don’t Hold Your Breath

The current NGSW field 

The U.S. Army is full-speed ahead on an initiative to select a new series of innovative 6.8mm-caliber Next Generation Squad Weapons to phase out its 5.56mm platforms for combat troops. However, it would seem the Department of the Army is hedging their bets with traditional systems just in case things don’t work out like planned such as in past ambitious programs for futuristic small arms.

In April, FN won a 5-year $119 million contract for new M4/M4A1 Carbines from the company’s South Carolina factory– where 500 of the shorty 5.56s roll out every, single, day.

And this week, Big Army likewise issued a $78 million award to FN for more M249s, the squad-level U.S-made variant of the FN Minimi light machine gun that has been standard since 1982.

Just google the Individual Carbine (IC), Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), or the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) programs to see why keeping the legacy infantry arms in production until things work out is a good idea.

The army advanced combat rifle ACR prototypes.

After SPIW, ACR, and OCIW, is NGSW the charm?

Despite past programs such as SPIW, ACR, and OCIW that left the U.S. Army still fielding successive generations of Eugene Stoner’s AR platform at the end of the day, today’s NGSW program could be different. The new Next Generation Squad Weapon program is moving right along and its competitors read like a who’s who of modern rifle, ammo, and optics makers.

Names like Beretta, Heckler & Koch, Leupold, Sig Sauer, Vortex, and Olin-Winchester are enumerated among the current vendors of what could end up as the most revolutionary small arms award of the 21st Century thus far.

The current field

More in my column at Guns.com

Guns of the U.S. Army, 1775-2020

While you may know of today’s standard U.S. Army infantry rifles, and those of the 20th Century, how about those present at Lexington and Concord or the line of Springfield muskets from 1795 through 1865? What came after?

For all this and more, check out the easy 2,000-word primer I did for this last weekend at Guns.com.

Put those German Sigs in the safe

In 1951, arms maker J. P. Sauer und Sohn GmbH relocated from Suhl in then Soviet-occupied East Germany and set up shop in Eckernförde near the city of Kiel.

In 1976, the firm was purchased by Swiss firearms giant SIG, forming Sig Sauer– largely to have an outlet to fulfill overseas orders for guns like the P220 without having to cut through layers of Swiss red tape.

This also led to a huge series of West German police contracts for the P225/P6 handgun.

After that, Sig Sauer came to America, where it has expanded operations in a big way ever since. Today, the U.S. branch of the company employs 2,300 and is responsible for most of the recent R&D.

Meanwhile, the original German branch of Sig Sauer has atrophied to just 130 employees.

By 2021, there will reportedly be -zero- left in Germany.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Sig Says they have delivered their prototype Next Gen small arms systems to the Army

New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer reports they have recently delivered their Next Generation Squad Weapons system to the U.S. Army for testing and evaluation.

Sig is one of three contractors who last year got the nod from the Pentagon to continue with the NGSW program, which is designed to replace 5.56mm NATO small arms– such as the M4 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon– in the Army’s frontline units.

Sig’s belt-fed MG 6.8mm machine gun, which is submitted as the NGSW-AR, is billed as being 40% lighter than the M249 but with “dramatically reduced felt recoil.” It has ambidextrous AR-style ergonomics, quick detach magazines, increased M1913 rail space, and a quick-detach Sig-developed suppressor.

Meanwhile, Sig’s MCX Spear rifle, submitted as the NGSW-R rifle, is also chambered in the new 6.8mm cartridge, has a fully collapsible and folding stock, rear and side charging handle, free-floating reinforced M-LOK handguard, fully ambi controls, and a quick-detach suppressor.

More in my column at Guns.com 

Welcome (back), M16A4

The humble original M16 was originally Armalite’s AR-15, and was first ordered for military service with a contract issued to Colt Firearms in May 1962 for the purchase of early Model 01 rifles to be used by Air Force Security Police.

Note, these guns had waffle-pattern 20-round mags, no forward assist, a thin 1:14 twist barrel, and the early three-prong flash hider.

Fast forward to the XM16E1, which became the M16A1 in 1967, and you started to come closer to the standard Army/Marine rifle used in Vietnam and throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. It used a forward assist and a 1:12 twist barrel.

By 1983, the M16A2 came about, it had a thicker barrel in front of the front sight, a modified flash suppressor (closed on bottom), a new polymer buttstock (lighter and stronger), faster barrel twist (from 1:12 to 1:7), and a spent case deflector for left-hand users. Considered downright vintage by the Army and Marines, the Navy still sports them these days.

M16A2- check
M9 in drop leg holster- check
Body armor- um, about that……

By 1998, the M16A4 was in play, primarily for the Marines, which had a removable carry handle, a Picatinny top rail to allow for optics, short rails on the handguard for accessories, and a 20-inch barrel with a 1:7 RH twist rate.

Note the size difference between the compact M4 Carbine, top, and the full-length M16A4 rifle, bottom. (Photos: Department of Defense)

Since the GWOT kicked off in 2002, the big shift over the years has been to move from the full-length M16 family to the more compact M4/M4A1 carbine, with its collapsible rear stock and stubby 14-inch barrel, leaving the increasingly old-school style rifle as something of a relic today. Heck, the Army for the past couple years has been very actively working on replacing their 5.56 NATO rifles and SAWs with a new 6.8mm weapon. 

Now jump to 2020, and the M16A4 is now apparently the Army’s designated rifle for Foreign Military Sales to equip overseas allies in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Nepal.

Colt and FN are competing in a contract to supply as much as $383 million smackers worth of M16A4s by 2025.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Has Vortex cracked the combat optic of the future?

Wisconsin-based Vortex Optics announced Monday they have entered into an agreement with the U.S. Army an agreement to deliver a possible component of the service’s Next Generation Squad Weapon.

The contract between the Pentagon and Vortex is an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreement, an award type traditionally used to fund innovative prototype procurement and development of forward-looking technology. As such, Vortex will provide production-ready prototypes for use in Soldier TouchPoint evaluations.

The optic at the center of the OTA is Vortex’s 1-8×30 Active Reticle Fire Control, which the veteran-owned company explains is “built around a revolutionary technology based on many years of internal research and development, along with multiple cooperative development efforts with the Army’s PM-Soldier Weapons group.”

The Active Reticle has reportedly been proven to increase hit percentage and decrease time to engage during Soldier TouchPoints in the past two years. In the case of a battery power loss, users still have an uncompromised 1-8x, direct-view optic and glass-etched reticle, which alone exceeds current optics.

And it looks pretty sweet.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Next Generation Squad Weapons abound

Groovy and very sci-fi looking new guns competing in the U.S. Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons program were shown to the public last week.

Intended to replace the current standard M4 Carbine and M249 SAW light machine gun, the new NGSW contenders — which use 6.8mm (.277-caliber) hybrid ammunition with an EPR bullet– were on hand at the largest land warfare conference and tradeshow in North America: the Association of United States Army annual meeting (AUSA 2019) last week in Washington DC.

General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems, which is working with True Velocity and Beretta, showed off their new RM277 NGSW platform, a bullpup with lots of modularity.

Notably, the gun uses True Velocity’s 6.8mm composite-cased cartridge, which has a “drastic reduction in cartridge weight and enhanced accuracy.”

Other contenders include a team made up of Textron, which has subcontracted with ammo maker Winchester-Olin and firearms maker Heckler & Koch, while Sig Sauer is going it alone.

In the below, BG Dave Hodne, Director SL CFT, and BG Potts, PEO Soldier, talk about soldier lethality and how the NGSW fits into the equation, below.

Happy 242nd birthday, Big Green

U.S. Army regulars of the first American contingent to arrive overseas in World War I, Wellington Barracks, 1917. Photographed by Christina Broom via Museum of London. Note the stacked M1903s, disk type canteens, and the very real “I guess we are over there now” faces. Most of these men had likely seen the elephant in Mexico or the Philippines, but were not ready for the ultra modern meat grinder of the Western Front

Since its official birth, more than a year before the Declaration of Independence — the U.S. Army has been getting it done.

On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress passed the following resolution:

Resolved, That six companies of expert riflemen [sic], be immediately raised in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two in Virginia; … [and] that each company, as soon as completed [sic], shall march and join the army near Boston, to be there employed as light infantry, under the command of the Chief Officer in that army.

With this resolution, the Continental Congress adopted the New England Army of Observation, making it a “continental” army — a united colonial fighting force — that could represent all 13 colonies with the addition of the troops from the three middle colonies. The Continental Army thus became America’s first national institution.

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey sends the below message for the 242nd Army Birthday. This year’s theme commemorates the 100th anniversary of World War I.

The first 243 American soldiers in Europe arrived on British soil on 18 May 1917, shown in the image at the top of this post. They would begin crossing the Channel and landing in France on 26 June. Four months later, on 21 October, the first Americans entered combat when units from the U.S. Army’s “Big Red One” 1st Infantry Division were assigned to Allied trenches in the Luneville sector near Nancy, France.

With that in mind, check out 7 ways WWI still impacts today’s Army.

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