The possible replacement for M249 finally publicly unveiled

by Eric Sof

A US army soldier and his M249 SAW

The weapon which is one of the possible designated weapons to replace the M249 machine gun is finally publicly unveiled. Sig SAUER revealed the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) program at the DSEI 2019 defense exhibition in London during September.

This follows an official announcement in August that SIG Sauer company had been downselected by the US Army, alongside Textron and General Dynamics, for the next stage of the program.

The aim of the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) is to provide the US soldier with greater firepower, mobility, and lethality by replacing the current M4 carbines and M249 machine guns in service with a new rifle and machine gun firing a new 6.8 mm caliber intermediate cartridge.

The solution presented by SIG Sauer revolves around a new 6.8×51 mm hybrid cartridge, the MG-6.8 light machine gun, the SPEAR assault rifle, and corresponding suppressors and electro-optical sighting systems. The whole system is the result of a $40 million investment by the Sig SAUER over a two-year period.

The core of the system is the 6.8×51 mm hybrid cartridge. The innovation touted by the company comes with associating a steel base with a brass cartridge case. According to the company president and CEO, Ron Cohen revealed that retaining a brass case was essential to SIG Sauer’s approach. Brass has been used in firearms design for more than a century and its properties in ammunition and firearms design are both well known and well mastered.

In order to meet the US Army’s standard requirement for 20% lighter ammunition and 30% more energy than current 7.62×51 mm NATO cartridges, SIG Sauer patented a new method of fixing a steel base by adding a washer to the brass body of the cartridge case.

More details about NGSW and possible replacements for the M4 Carbines and M249 Machine guns can be found here.

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