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Soldat_Américain
04-13-2010, 02:28 PM
The Future of US Army Small Arms
I had the fortune to recently speak with COL Tamilio, PM Soldier Weapons about improvements to the current M4 carbine as well as a proposed new weapon dubbed the “Improved Carbine”. It seems that there has been some confusion over this, but there are two separate projects going on, almost simultaneously.

The Stoner family of weapons (M16/M4) have undergone numerous upgrades throughout their almost 50 year of service. The Carbine Improvement Program is focused on some of the most radical ever material improvements to the M4/M16. They consist of a piston gas system to replace the current direct-impingement gas system, improved trigger, monolithic rail, and a round counter to assist with maintenance of the weapon. According to COL Tamilio, they have already approved two Engineering Changes for the M4 which include a heavier barrel and ambidextrous controls. Additionally, they recently put out a call to industry asking what they can do to make these other changes to the current rifle. If successful, they will be spirally inserted into the Army’s weapons. Hopefully, such improvements won’t come in Black but rather a shade of Brown or Tan that blends in a little better with the Soldier’s equipment and surrounding terrain.

But making evolutionary enhancements to the current weapon is just the beginning. The Army has also written a requirement for a follow on to the venerable M16. The requirements documentation for the Improved Carbine has completed the Army’s staffing process and is currently with the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC). Every major procurement program must negotiate this is hurdle where all of the services as well as SOCOM get to take a look at it and validate it. The idea is to make sure that the services aren’t trying to purchase the same or very similar items under different programs. Think of it as sort of a Department to Prevent Redundancy Department. The requirement will be there for several months and I would not expect to see the actual solicitation on the street until fall.

The Improved Carbine is intended as a no holds barred look at individual small arms in the carbine class. Despite rumors that the Improved Carbine and Squad Individual Marksman variant would share the same requirements document, possibly also with the Personal Defense Weapon, this is not the case. They needed to be broken down into separate requirements although it is possible that the Individual Carbine and Squad Individual Marksman weapons may end up relying on a common weapon. The PDW is a bit more problematic due to the Army’s desired characteristics for the weapon. The Army wants to purchase about 500,000 of the new carbines and has stipulated that they will own the Technical Data Package so that they can award production contracts for the type selected to more than one manufacturer.

Interestingly, the requirement does not specify a caliber, an operating system, nor a form factor. They are dedicated to seeing the best industry has to offer. COL Tamilio was very emphatic about this and said, “The Army is seeking an improvement to the M4 carbine and the Army is committed to testing and procuring it.”

Now here is my take on the Improved Carbine requirement.

This has been tried before, and more than once. First, in the 60s with the Special Purpose Individual Weapon (SPIW) and its offspring SALVO, Niblick, and the future Rifle Program and then again in the late 1980s with the Advanced Combat Rifle program. All pitted the industry’s best in a race for that leap ahead technology and none provided it.

Overall, it sounds good but to me has an air of a science project. “Give us the best you’ve got.” But how do you measure that? With an open call for ammunition as well as base weapon how do you objectively evaluate them against one another? There are too may variables to attribute performance. Below you see a photo featuring several of the current operational and developmental military calibers and this is by no means all inclusive. Imagine a test involving an even larger pantheon of rounds. Then imagine it further diversified by different platforms and operating systems. How much of a weapon’s success do you attribute to the ammo and how much to the weapon itself?

As we saw in the ACR competition, ammunition doesn’t just mean caliber, but rather of types of rounds. For example, the 5.56mm Colt entry featured a duplex projectile by Olin. Another round introduced by H&K as part of their G11 rifle was a caseless design in 4.7mm.

All this talk of ammunition leads me to also comment that I do not believe the Army will adopt a new caliber. My belief is based mainly on economics and one fact given to me by COL Tamilio seems to support my assertion. He related that it cost $300 million to prepare for the transition to the new “Green” 5.56 mm ammunition adopted by the Army. He said it would cost this much to transition to a new caliber OR even to alter production to make 7.62 NATO the primary ammunition.

Ultimately, this is a cautionary tale. As we have heard time and time again, “Those who fail to study history, are doomed to repeat it.” I don’t doubt COL Tamilio’s dedication to the idea, nor the Army’s for that matter, but I think they will once again validate the status quo. It is precisely what happened at the conclusion of the ACR project. The Army could identify no appreciable improvement in lethality, hit probability or reliability over the M-16 family of weapons and so they retained the M16 for further use. That was over 20 years ago and in that time, small arms technology has not progressed radically. However, time will tell.http://soldiersystems.net/2010/04/12/the-future-of-us-army-small-arms/

Very interesting, I also wonder what SMG-Lee has to say about all of this.

Skutatos
04-13-2010, 03:08 PM
I think we have hit a stagnant period in firearms design, much like ~1700-1850s.

While there was many small improvements nothing really changed radically until some truly reliable breechloading and repeating rifles began to appear alongside metal cartridges. Even with the appreciable increase in accuracy and range brought about by the minie ball and rifled muskets you do not see much of an increase in lethality due to most troops being poor marksmen at the time(combined with stress, exhaustion, etc..), and most engagements happened in terrain that prevented them from taking advantage of the increased range.

Until someone comes up with some radically new design with multiple advantages the best we can hope for now is perfection of existing technologies I believe.

goat89
04-13-2010, 03:12 PM
Time for railguns.

qsceszwsx
04-13-2010, 03:31 PM
like this ?
http://www.imfdb.org/index.php?title=%28Eraser%29_-_EM-1_Railgun
p-)

Reaper17
04-13-2010, 04:34 PM
Time for railguns.

With friggin lazers! Just waiting for the "needs 6.5/6.8/bigger than a 5.56" crew to chime in...

AOCBravo2004
04-13-2010, 09:19 PM
Actually Reaper I think everyone should be issued an M82 CQB model, along with a Desert Eagle 50, but that's just my opinion :) LOL

cliffg
04-14-2010, 01:04 AM
Bring back the FN FAL / SLR!!

Ought Six
04-14-2010, 01:41 AM
Link to the original article:

http://soldiersystems.net/2010/04/12/the-future-of-us-army-small-arms/

Arnie100
04-14-2010, 01:49 AM
M-41 pulse rifle FTW!

http://img255.imageshack.us/img255/3997/alienspulserifle.thdotjpg (http://img255.imageshack.us/i/alienspulserifledotjpg/)

Seiran
04-14-2010, 02:31 AM
Wait...wait...after all that smoke they blew about how the piston upper's don't provide enough of an improvement to warrant the cost, now that's the big thing they're pushing for to improve the M4/M16 system? *facepalms*


M-41 pulse rifle FTW!

http://img255.imageshack.us/img255/3997/alienspulserifle.thdotjpg (http://img255.imageshack.us/i/alienspulserifledotjpg/)

Oh definitely.

HK in AK
04-14-2010, 02:36 AM
M-41 pulse rifle FTW!

http://img255.imageshack.us/img255/3997/alienspulserifle.thdotjpg (http://img255.imageshack.us/i/alienspulserifledotjpg/)


AHH dangit, someone beat me to it.

MichaelF
04-14-2010, 02:54 AM
I'm waiting for the caseless or CT ammo to hit the field.

Snapdad
04-14-2010, 03:09 AM
With friggin lazers! Just waiting for the needs 6.5/6.8/bigger than a 5.56 crew to chime in...

6.5 Grendel would be perfect for Afghanistan.

whiskey
04-14-2010, 04:37 AM
they should bring this baby finally to a-stan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM25

along with 416's in 6,8p-)

vajt
04-14-2010, 12:00 PM
They will go back to the same results as the ACR, nothing was found to be much of an improvement compared to the investment that would be required. With current technology, the best that could be made would be a 6.5/6.8mm caseless or CTA, lightweight modular rifle with reduced recoil. This may be great but the improvement that this weapon would produce wouldn't be radically greater than what a good rifle can currently do while saving hundreds of millions of development and production dollars.

Besides new radical technologies like laser or electro magnetic which are still decades away, the next more reasonable choice would be the development of mini-guided rockets that would be launched from a future weapon. Maybe something like an XM-25 that fires guided rounds. This would provide enough improvement in hitting capability that it would possibly be worth the investment.

-----JT-----

Snapdad
04-14-2010, 04:09 PM
Well they got Multicam so anything is possible. 6.5 Grendel has the necessary long range capability for Afghanistan whereas 5.56 and also 6.8 do not (sorry 6.8 fans).

vajt
04-14-2010, 04:27 PM
Maybe something like the Denel PAW-20 but firing guided rounds...

http://world.guns.ru/grenade/gl29-e.htm

-----JT-----

profall
04-14-2010, 08:07 PM
I have to agree with what someone said earlier in the thread. I think we have hit a stagnant period. It seems this happens to all weapons in the history of mankind though. There is only so many ways you can improve something until it cannot be improved anymore. This happened to the spear and sword of the past, and it was going to eventually happen to the firearm. I see other technologies of course evolving, like materials or what not. But I think we have mastered the basic design of what we want a combat firearm to be.

Waterman
04-14-2010, 09:17 PM
Firearms technology has been basically static with only minor incremental changes in the last 100 years (the weapons from pre-WW1 would not be too far out of place or outclassed on the modern day battlefield-in fact some are still used in current conflicts).

Materials should be the next thing to make changes to: lightweight high strength alloys, super polymers and carbon fiber used to trim the weight of the weapons themselves (imagine a full size rifle weighing in at about 14oz), and possibly the cartridges (think carbon fiber, super alloys or super polymers instead of "brass" or even further development of "caseless" ammo concept).

The other thing will be the development of higher accuracy and potentially longer range conventional rounds (maybe a better/different aerodynamic shape ? more on less spin from the barrel ? etc), along with small "smart" or proximity rounds in smaller and smaller caliber packages so that you get improved lethality in a smaller package.

But really until the technology evolves to bring focused energy weapons in a man portable package to the battlefield......firearms will be the standard for individual combat.

SilentType
04-16-2010, 03:10 PM
Everyone is quick to point out that there have only been small incremental changes or improvements made in small arms tech. However, we owe it to our service members to provide them with the best that our industry has to offer. Even marginal improvements in reliability and performance can save lives.

DOD can certainly demand more from manufacturers now with tighter tolerances, better materials, more reliable operating systems, and small arms that are designed for a more cost-effective and streamlined logistical footprint. We can offer that to DOD now.

whiskey
04-17-2010, 07:11 AM
Maybe something like the Denel PAW-20 but firing guided rounds...

http://world.guns.ru/grenade/gl29-e.htm

-----JT-----

as i posted:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM25

bababooey
04-17-2010, 08:09 AM
Everyone is quick to point out that there have only been small incremental changes or improvements made in small arms tech. However, we owe it to our service members to provide them with the best that our industry has to offer. Even marginal improvements in reliability and performance can save lives.

DOD can certainly demand more from manufacturers now with tighter tolerances, better materials, more reliable operating systems, and small arms that are designed for a more cost-effective and streamlined logistical footprint. We can offer that to DOD now.

Well said. DoD would be wise to do everything you said, but if it has'nt done so by now....

All I see in the firearms world are improvements upon a previous improvement. Tweaking an idea to the point where it can be a good idea or a bad idea. The newest offering by the Czechs, Mexico and Italy, as seen in this forum, remind me of HK. Doesn't mean its a bad thing, but there seems to be stagnation. Even the USA doesn't see the point in adopting gas piston M16's to replace a 1950's designed M16.

And with all the talk here of 6.5 and 6.8mm, the fact is that countries are not adopting these rounds. European nations are buying new rifles today with 5.56.

IMO, the caseless ammuntion and rifle developed by HK was a revolution in design that should have been adopted. Read up on the G11 and some may agree with me.

Soldat_Américain
04-17-2010, 08:51 AM
If you read the article, the first project isn't much of a redesign per say, however the gas piston is a comin'.

Corrupt
04-17-2010, 09:43 AM
The other thing will be the development of higher accuracy and potentially longer range conventional rounds (maybe a better/different aerodynamic shape ? more on less spin from the barrel ? etc), along with small "smart" or proximity rounds in smaller and smaller caliber packages so that you get improved lethality in a smaller package..


Arent the Germans experimenting with polished chrome unrifled barrels with just one twist at the end?

SilentType
04-18-2010, 02:25 AM
If you read the article, the first project isn't much of a redesign per say, however the gas piston is a comin'.

That's a good thing.

When the Colt M4 is outperformed by every other rifle in the U.S. Army Dust test, because those rifles used a gas piston system than I think common sense says its worth looking into a gas piston system.

Arnie100
04-18-2010, 02:28 AM
That's a good thing.

When the Colt M4 is outperformed by every other rifle in the U.S. Army Dust test, because those rifles used a gas piston system than I think common sense says its worth looking into a gas piston system.

Tell that to the Army!

SilentType
04-18-2010, 02:30 AM
Well said. DoD would be wise to do everything you said, but if it has'nt done so by now....

All I see in the firearms world are improvements upon a previous improvement. Tweaking an idea to the point where it can be a good idea or a bad idea. The newest offering by the Czechs, Mexico and Italy, as seen in this forum, remind me of HK. Doesn't mean its a bad thing, but there seems to be stagnation. Even the USA doesn't see the point in adopting gas piston M16's to replace a 1950's designed M16.

And with all the talk here of 6.5 and 6.8mm, the fact is that countries are not adopting these rounds. European nations are buying new rifles today with 5.56.

IMO, the caseless ammuntion and rifle developed by HK was a revolution in design that should have been adopted. Read up on the G11 and some may agree with me.

Well, I wouldn't say stagnation. What we're seeing is all the design ideas that we've had in the past starting to come together into an all inclusive list of features in certain modern rifles. Quick change barrels, caliber conversions, polymers, and so forth have all been here for a long time now. However, now we're starting to see rifles really makes use of every positive feature of individual past firearms.

Also we can't undersell the "little tweaks" some of those little tweaks are incredibly innovative in their own way. I stand in awe of all the firearms engineers out there who come up with useful patents.

I agree the HK G11 was revolutionary. Many of the firearms in that Army evaluation were amazing. The Steyr ACR stands out in my mind as a really wild design that was novel. I think it helps once and awhile to have a very broad request and just say to the industry at large "go crazy let's see what you can come up with."

SilentType
04-18-2010, 02:38 AM
One of things to look at in the future is nitride barrels or ways of lining a barrel that will be superior to chrome. With some of the newer materials and manufacturing innovations weapon firms can produce rifles with amazing service lives now. The U.S. Army could save a lot of money in the long run with parts and whole rifles having increased service lives.

SilentType
04-18-2010, 02:41 AM
Tell that to the Army!

I would if they would listen. I mean if the Army did what their soldiers all know should be done then it wouldn't have taken years to figure out that Multicam works pretty good in Afghanistan.

I mean how many service members here have personally owned semi-auto AR's with billet receivers, national match triggers, gas piston systems, and so forth? Probably a good number.

cone256
04-19-2010, 04:12 PM
I would if they would listen. I mean if the Army did what their soldiers all know should be done then it wouldn't have taken years to figure out that Multicam works pretty good in Afghanistan.

I mean how many service members here have personally owned semi-auto AR's with billet receivers, national match triggers, gas piston systems, and so forth? Probably a good number.

I'm one of them!

Sarge543
04-21-2010, 02:45 PM
Here's an idea guys, we get rid of our L85s and you get rid of the Colts and we all get AK 47s!!!!

whiskey
04-22-2010, 05:04 AM
^yeah why not, theyre damn cheap,
and we can use our enemys mags :D

SilentType
04-24-2010, 02:47 PM
^yeah why not, theyre damn cheap,
and we can use our enemys mags :D

Just so long as you never shot their ammunition. Talk about total junk. Reloads that have been reloaded 50 times over by illiterate kids.

bababooey
04-24-2010, 03:52 PM
Here's an idea guys, we get rid of our L85s and you get rid of the Colts and we all get AK 47s!!!!

I'll take the AK-74, please...