The United States Army has chosen Sig Sauer to build and deliver it’s Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW). Sig Sauer will provide both the individual rifle and light machine gun for the next ten years. In 2017, the Sig Sauer won the XM17 Modular Handgun System competition. The NGSW project makes them a provider of the vast majority of small arms to the close combat forces and likely special operations forces.
For the coming decades, the M4 Carbine will continue to be used by general-purpose forces, essentially all other soldiers in the Army. Marines are also expected to receive quantities of the weapons for their close combat forces.
Individual rifles and light machine guns will be chambered in a new 6.8mm caliber. This munition has a brass box and a steel base. The army pointed out the 6.8 mm projectile. The newly developed 6.8 general-purpose projectiles are said to have a range of at least 600 meters, doubling the M16 / M4A1’s main combat range. The 6.8mm round has greater lethality at distances beyond the effective range of the 5.56mm and retains better accuracy than the 7.62mm. This means that this round will be able to pierce any ballistic body armor currently in use.
The decision to pursue an intermediate caliber round came out of the Small Arms Ammunition Configuration Study, which emerged from concerns about body armor improvements among Russian and potentially Chinese troops.
“Both weapons provide significant capability improvements in accuracy, range and overall lethality. They are lightweight, fire more lethal ammunition, mitigate recoil, provide improved barrel performance, and include integrated muzzle sound and flash reduction.”US Army statement, April 19, 2022
The Sig Sauer design has similar configurations and ergonomics to existing rifle platforms despite the other caliber. With the NGSW project, Army wants to solve range, accuracy, and lethality problems in small arms for the close combat force.
Testing purpose contract
In a statement released on April 19, 2022, the US Army announced that the NGSW project supported by Sig Sauer aims to replace part of the M16 family with the so-called NGSW rifle and the M249 light machine gun. The initial contract includes weapons and ammunition worth $20.4 million for testing purposes.
“The contract also includes accessories, spare parts and maintenance contractors. It also provides an opportunity for other agencies of the US Department of Defense and potentially countries that wish to make purchases through foreign military sales to purchase NGSW weapons.”US Army statement, April 19, 2022
New rifle and light machine gun
The XM5 rifle, based on the SIG Sauer MCX-SPEAR, will replace the M4 / M4A1 carbine within the so-called Close Combat Forces. The XM250 Automatic Rifle, based on the SIG Sauer LMG-6.8, is the planned replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.
Melee forces mean infantry, reconnaissance troops, engineering forces, observers, and medical troops stationed directly on the front line. The X mark on weapons is usually dropped once the weapon systems have passed all the tests and been handed over to the troops. Therefore, it can be assumed that the official designation of the weapons will be M5 or M250.