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WEAPONS & SIGHTS AT MILIPOL 2017

November 22, 2017 by · Comment
Filed under: FN, Syndicated Industry News 
       

U.S. Army’s Small Arms Struggles Continue

Over at CNET: Military Tech Mark Rutherford writes about how the Army has just put on hold its program to develop a new crew personal weapon to replace the M4 carbine and 9 mm pistols they currently use. The goal had been to develop a subcompact, lighter weapon. Interestingly the M4 “short” version of the M16 was developed for crew use and then became adopted military wide due to the need to have a shorter weapon to use from vehicles and in rapid response situations due to the threat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army had moved out on the XM8 system that would have had a rifle version and a support weapon firing 25mm rounds. This ultimately was canceled for a variety of reasons some political and some technical. The small arms situation with the U.S. is at such a state that the Special Operations Command (SOCCOM) went out and bought their own weapon, the SCAR. Attempts to get the whole military to adopt this were stymied as well. Much of these problems have to do with Colt and the U.S. desire to maintain and American designed and made small arms. The U.S. needs to move out and buy a new system to replace the M16/M4 family especially as there are issues with them in dusty environments. Really this has been one of the worst recent failures in U.S. acquisition history.

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UAVs ordered by Special Operations

The US Special Operations Command awarded a contract to buy small UAVs. See an article here. AeroVironment will provide their small Puma AE to the command. This illustrates that the USSOCOM is a separate entity within the DoD and can do its own acquisition. In the past they would have to rely on the main services to procure their equipment, but they now have their own development and procurement funds. The most recent key split between USSOCOM and the Army was the decision to go with a different rifle then the M4/M16. The Special Ops guys bout HK’s SCAR. For more on that see this.

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FN moves to compete with Colt

Slowly over the last several years, FN, the Belgian small arms manufacturer has been expanding its US operations. They have developed several NATO standard weapons that have been adopted by the US military – such as the M249 SAW and the M240 LMG. Now, according to this article, they plan to bid on the next M4 contract. The M4, and Colt, have had issues since 9/11. There are many complaints about the weapon and its jamming in dusty environments. The US Special Forces have adopted a separate weapon, the SCAR, and have also looked at 6.8 mm rifles. There have also been issues with how the US Army has managed the contracts for the M4. It will make for an interesting contract process next year.

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M4 criticism continues

It is not news that the Colt M4 carbine has received a lot of criticism for its performance in Iraq and Afghanistan. This article summarizes a great deal of it. It turns out that the M4, originally a shortened M16 for use by armor and air crew, does not do well in dusty environments. The Special Forces have moved to an HK product, called the SCAR. Many in Congress and the Army have lobbied for a the regular Army and USMC to buy the SCAR as well. The Army did work on a new rifle, the XM-8, that was canceled recently due to problems with the program. Because this is a key piece of equipment for the military expect to see more about this and further efforts to broaden the small arms inventory.

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