The not-really Next Generation Weapons Program

BY PGF
1 year, 1 month ago

Commentary at Army Times:

On all key technical measures, the Next Generation Squad Weapons program is imploding before Army’s very eyes. The program is on mechanical life support, with its progenitors at the Joint Chiefs obstinately now ramming the program through despite spectacularly failing multiple civilian-sector peer reviews almost immediately upon commercial release.

Indeed the rifle seems cursed from birth. Even the naming has failed. Army recently allowed a third-party company to scare it off the military designation M5. The re-naming will certainly also help scupper bad public relations growing around ‘XM-5′ search results.

Civilian testing problems have, or should have, sunk the program already. The XM-5/7 as it turns out fails a single round into a mud test. Given the platform is a piston-driven rifle it now lacks gas, as the M-16 was originally designed, to blow away debris from the eject port. Possibly aiming to avoid long-term health and safety issues associated with rifle gas, Army has selected an operating system less hardy in battlefield environments. A choice understandable in certain respects, however, in the larger scheme the decision presents potentially war-losing cost/benefit analysis.

Watch the mud test video above. It’s possible to tailor demonstrations and testing to sell any product, and that’s what many manufacturers do in Military arms contracts award trials. And there’s almost always a high-level ringer in uniform to urge his peers into acceptance.

Civilian testing, testing Army either never did or is hiding, also only recently demonstrated that the rifle seemingly fails, at point-blank ranges, to meet its base criteria of penetrating Level 4 body armor (unassisted). True, the Army never explicitly set this goal, but it has nonetheless insinuated at every level, from media to Congress, that the rifle will penetrate said armor unassisted. Indeed, that was the entire point of the program. Of course, the rounds can penetrate body armor with Armor Piercing rounds, but so can 7.62x51mm NATO, even 5.56x45mm NATO.

Everybody knew outsourcing manufacturing would have dire national consequences over time. All strategic negligence will result in tactical failures; it’s the nature of planning and execution. There’s really no way around it other than clever soldiers who are able to overcome bad decision-making. Having to overcome your own National Strategic Commander’s acquisition errors is no way for a soldier to be thrust into battle. But by now, we all know Washington doesn’t have the individual Soldier or Marine at heart. I sighed out loud, reading this next paragraph.

The fundamental problem with the program is there remains not enough tungsten available from China, as Army knows, to make the goal of making every round armor piercing even remotely feasible. The plan also assumes that the world’s by far largest supplier will have zero problems selling tungsten to America only for it to be shot back at its troops during World War III. Even making steel core penetrators would be exceedingly difficult when the time came, adding layers of complexity and time to the most time-contingent of human endeavors. In any case, most large bullet manufacturers and even Army pre-program have moved to tungsten penetrators for a reason, despite the fact it increases the cost by an order of magnitude and supply seems troubled. Perhaps Army has a solution, perhaps.

There’s this conclusion:

The slight increase in ballistic coefficiency between the 6.8x51mm and 7.62x51mm cartridges neither justified the money pumped into the program nor does the slight increase in kinetic energy dumped on target. Itself a simple function of case pressurization within the bastardized 7.62mm case. Thus the net mechanical results of the program design-wise is a rifle still chambered in a 7.62×51 mm NATO base case (as the M-14), enjoying now two ways to charge the weapon and a folding stock. This is the limit of the touted generational design ‘leap’ under the program.

And more at the source.

H/T Bill Buppert g/@zerogov


Comments

  1. On March 7, 2023 at 7:43 pm, George said:

    I thought the 6.8 SPC was a really viable option for the next generation weapon/ammunition combo.
    Sigh.
    I did not understand why just changing caliber would be the magic solution.
    The 6.8 SPC blends into the M16 system well.
    The 6.8/51 is still a big cartridge and negates the positives made with the 5.56 systems.

  2. On March 7, 2023 at 8:27 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    We’ve discussed this at length before. The perfect cartridge would have been the 6mm ARC. Same lower, different upper, different magazine, same recoil, much more effective round at distance. 105 gr bullet at 2750 FPS.

    Somebody is paying the former generals big money to pick Sig for everything. Somebody has pictures on somebody else high up.

    And somebody paid somebody big $$$ to tell the house and senate to spend this much money on a bust.

    Wait until the lads and girls have to tote the gun for any distance (and tote that ammo too). You haven’t heard anywhere near the last of this fiasco.

  3. On March 8, 2023 at 1:41 am, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ HS

    6mm ARC would be an excellent choice to upgrade the assault rifles/battle carbines now being used in 5.56x45mm NATO. I also like 6.8SPC and 6.5 Grendel as well, but would consider 6mm ARC a great option too. You’ve won me over on that one.

    However, for the battle rifle and GPMG side of things, switching to a new chambering in 6.8 Fury – employing largely unproven hybrid-case technology – is asking for trouble.

    I’ve followed military procurement at the DOD/Pentagon for more years than I like to count, but the way those guys think still leaves me scratching my head in bewilderment.

    Mil.gov has just spent the last decade or so trialing 6.5 Creedmoor in the field for its JSOC forces, as a potential replacement for 7.62x51mm NATO in certain roles and missions. Granted, I am an outsider with his nose pressed against the glass, but the reports I have seen suggest that it has been a well-liked cartridge and the weapons that fire it have also been well-regarded.

    In other words, 6.5 CM is well-established, well-regarded and the weapons using it seem to be both effective and well-liked by the JSOC personnel using it. The next step, logic would seem to dictate, would be to use the cartridge and weapon for the next-gen. squad weapon, right? But no, Big Green and the DOD went instead in a totally-unrelated direction with the Sig-Sauer 6.8×51 and its weapons system.

    I have to agree with you: Who has incriminating photos or other actionable black-mail on the brass and higher-ups over at the DOD/Pentagon? Well, if it isn’t that, Sig sure has some other kind of leverage. What sort of quid-pro-quo has Biden’s regime been engaging in with Berlin? Inquiring minds want to know.

    A dispassionate comparison between 6.8×51 and 6.5 CM clearly shows that 6.5 CM performs better in most if not all of the areas tested by the DOD. Moreover, the cartridge is highly-effective using traditional brass case technology, and does not require high-pressure hybrid tech to work well in the field.

    Last but not least, in the bullet/projectile weight ranges being contemplated by the DOD/Pentagon and the army, 6.5mm (.264-cal.) projectiles have superior BC and SD numbers, in comparison to those for 6.8mm (.277). And in comparison to the established loads already in use for 7.62x51mm NATO, 6.5 CM offers lesser recoil and superior efficiency in the form of supersonic range as much as 20-25% greater than legacy .308-caliber projectiles.

    For example, a 140-grain BTHP or tipped bullet in 6.5mm @ 2600 will often remain supersonic out to ~ 1500 yards in many areas of operation, whereas the 175-grain BTHP loads used in .308 run out of gas around 1100 yards in most AO’s. In short, 6.5 CM offers 300 Win-Mag type performance in a cartridge which has less felt recoil than .308 Winchester.

    Even in 6.5 Grendel, which is an intermediate sized case, a Hornady 123-grain ELD-M @ 2450-2500 fps still hits 1200 yards before starting to go transsonic.

    To summarize, then, what on earth was Big Green thinking going with the Sig Spear rifle and its 6.8×51 ammo, when such high-quality alternatives already existed? Alternatives which also cost less to adopt and could be in the hands of the troops who need them sooner than anything Sig could offer?

  4. On March 8, 2023 at 8:31 am, Name (required) said:

    US military procurement is optimized for delivering graft, not for delivering weapons.

    In other countries it’s called bribery. In this country it’s called campaign contributions.

  5. On March 8, 2023 at 10:07 am, george 1 said:

    Bottom line:

    #1 If they were hell bent on going to the AR10 sized platform there are much better cartridges out there.

    #2 They could have stayed with the M4 size platform where at present there are at least three cartridges that would have been as good and possibly better than the one they went with with.

  6. On March 8, 2023 at 2:51 pm, Rick said:

    If only Sgt Bilko hadn’t retired.

  7. On March 8, 2023 at 4:29 pm, BAP45 said:

    Great stuff but I’m surprised you linked inrange

  8. On March 8, 2023 at 5:07 pm, IAB said:

    Karl does interesting stuff, even if he is a Commie toad. Good to keep an eye on your enemies, what?

  9. On March 10, 2023 at 7:54 am, Jay Dee said:

    Just a thought, the best way for the military to get a functional gun is to institute a civilian competition where civilians design and build guns then compete in a series of shooting competitions. Here’s a few thoughts on the various stages. Time & Accuracy counts. Malfunctions deduct from score.

    Cold – The gun must be stored for 24 hours in a freezer, removed and fired.
    Dust – Gun is agitated in a dust box then fired with minimal cleaning. (one breath down the bore)
    Mud – Gun is submerged in mud, hosed off then fired. (Muzzle may be plugged but whatever covers the muzzle may not be removed.)
    Accuracy – 100 round course at various ranges.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Army,Guns and was published March 7th, 2023 by PGF.

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