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United States army awards contracts to six firms to design new rifle prototypes

United States army awards contracts to six firms to design new rifle prototypes
The Siliconreview
12 July, 2018

The United States Army awarded contracts to six firms to design a replacement for the aging M249 squad automatic weapon. The M249 has a distinguished service record that spans four decades and was used in a number of wars around the globe. Weighing 22 lb and firing the 5.56 NATO cartridges at over 600 rounds a minute, it is a highly portable machine gun that allows soldiers to lay down heavy suppressive fire on the enemy.

 The army’s efforts to find a futuristic replacement for the M249 are a part of its Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) initiative and come under its soldier lethality modernization priority. The need for such a weapon has been identified after the assessment of several action reports. The NGSAR will combine the firepower of a machine gun with the accuracy, precision, and mobility of an assault rifle. It would dramatically improve the soldiers’ survivability, lethality, and accuracy. The army released a prototype opportunity notice (PON) with a view to attract manufacturers and replace the existing M249.

 The PON document stated that the weapon, inclusive of a bipod, suppressor and a sling, must not weigh more than 12 pounds and must not exceed the maximum length of 35 inches. Additionally, it must have a sustainable rate of fire of 60 rounds a minute for 15 minutes with having to change the barrel.