Army Orders 100,000 Next-Generation Rifles Amid Threats Of War

Earlier this month, we reported that Textron Systems' AAI Corporation delivered its Next Generation Squad Weapon-Technology (NGSW-T) prototype demonstrator to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Armaments Center and Joint Services Small Arms Program (JSSAP). A new report from Defense Blog shows the Army will purchase approximately 100,000 units of the next-generation weapon that fires 6.8-millimeter ammunition.

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley on April 10 announced the Army would order 100,000 units, mainly purchased for infantry units which engage in close-quarters combat.

U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC) officials said the new weapons would include the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle (NGSW-R) and the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR).

The NGSW-R is expected to replace the M16 rifle and M4 carbine. The NGSW-AR is also expected to replace the M249 light machine gun in the Automatic Rifleman Role in the Close Combat Force.

The new rifles chamber a 6.8mm cartridge, known as the XM1186. The round has greater range, increased accuracy at longer distances, and better armor penetration capability than 5.56x45mm and 7.62x39mm ammunition. The 6.8mm round is expected to be the most advanced ammunition on the modern battlefield for the next 25 years.

In October, the Army selected the 6.8mm as the official requirements for the NGSW. The new bullet is designed to penetrate the world's most advanced body armor at a range of up to 600 meters.

"Moving from contract award to delivery of a revolutionary, next-generation weapon in just 15 months not only demonstrates the maturity of our Cased-Telescoped technology, but also the project execution excellence our team possesses to rapidly fill critical warfighter needs on schedule," said Textron Systems Senior Vice President of Applied Technologies & Advanced Programs Wayne Prender.

"Our Cased-Telescoped weapons and ammunition offer the growth path to a true next-generation small arms weapon for U.S. warfighters, including increased lethality at longer ranges, while also delivering significant weight reductions to the warfighter."

The Pentagon’s current shift from urban warfare in Iraq and Syria to the mountains and open terrain of Afghanistan have been the driving force behind modernizing standard issue weapons for infantry units. While standard rifles are well-suited for close combat in cities like Mosul and Raqqa, it lacks the range to kill adversaries in open stretches.

The Army is expected to test AAI's NGSW weapon at firing ranges this summer. Full contract award could be upwards of 250,000 units and 150 million rounds. The expected field date is early 2020.