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troung
12 Mar 05,, 00:27
Army seeks to replace its lightest machine gun
XM-8 testing suspended pending contractor competition

By Matthew Cox
Times staff writer

The Army wants arms makers to come up with replacements for virtually all of its infantry weapons.

The Army will hold an open competition among arms makers to select a replacement for its M-16 rifles, M-4 carbines and M-249 squad automatic weapons.

The March 4 pre-solicitation notice, posted on the Internet, means the Army’s XM-8 program will have to prove it can outperform the rest of the small-arms industry before soldiers carry it into battle.

“We have halted testing to let the competition be completed,” said Col. Michael Smith, who runs Project Manager Soldier Weapons, the Army office that has been developing the XM-8.

Smith said the decision was made to hold off on operational tests slated for October because it’s unclear if XM-8’s maker, Heckler & Koch, will emerge the winner.

“It may not be XM-8 … our bottom line is we want the best weapon for the soldier. If someone has a better weapon than the XM-8, I’m ready to support them 100 percent.”

Smith’s office has been working on the XM-8 prototype as an unopposed replacement for the M-16 since late 2003. It was part of a longer-range effort to perfect an over-and-under style weapon, known as the Objective Individual Combat Weapon or XM-29, developed by Alliant Techsystems and Heckler & Koch.

The XM-29 fires special air-bursting projectiles and standard 5.56mm ammunition. But at 18 pounds, it’s still too heavy to meet requirements, so Army planners decided to perfect each of XM-29’s components separately, allowing soldiers to take advantage of new technology sooner.

The XM-8 is one of those components. It features a compact model for close quarters, a standard carbine and a designated marksman/squad automatic rifle model with a longer, heavier barrel and bipod legs for stability.

The March 4 “Pre-solicitation Notice for the Objective Individual Combat Weapon Increment I family of weapons,” invites small-arms makers to try and meet an Army requirement for a “non-developmental family of weapons that are capable of firing U.S. standard M855 and M856” 5.56mm ammunition.

The OICW Increment I is intended to replace current weapon systems, including the M-4, M-16 and selected M-9 pistols for the active Army, the notice states.

In addition, to the carbine, compact, designated marksman models, the Army wants the family of weapons to include a light machine-gun model that would replace the M-249 SAW.

Currently, each infantry squad contains two SAWs that serve as light support weapons because of its 5.56mm ammunition and high-rate of fire.

The Infantry Center, which is the proponent for small arms for the Army, maintains that the SAW, while very popular with soldiers, has been in service since the early 1980s and is beginning to wear out.

“A lot of our SAWs are 20 years old,” said Maj. Glen Dean, the chief of small arms at the Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga. SAWs are rebuilt, he said, but often not fast enough to keep up with everyday wear and tear under combat conditions.

“You see soldiers carrying SAWs held together with the zip ties.”

A formal Request for Proposal is slated to be issued “on or about” March 23, the notice states.

Interested companies will be required to submit four of each type of the four different variants by late spring.

Submissions will be put through a series of tests, including live-fire exercises, to see if they meet the requirement.

The winning company will be awarded a low-rate initial production contract to produce up to 4,900 weapons systems and could receive a full-rate production contract to make more than 134,000 weapons systems, the notice states.

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What a joke...

bonehead
12 Mar 05,, 05:04
I thought HK had it in the bag. Who did they piss off, or not pay off?

Bill
12 Mar 05,, 05:56
"“You see soldiers carrying SAWs held together with the zip ties.”"

Because there's a design flaw. Everybody zip ties the hard plastic magazines in place. Been doing it since the thing was adopted.

Terran empire
12 Mar 05,, 07:27
I thought HK had it in the bag. Who did they piss off, or not pay off? Well They did Kind of Cheat.
If your a XM 8 fan then this could be a good sign. Because the Program was a branch off of the XM 29. As such An XM 8 Acquisition could be looked at by some, As a case some dirty Dealing so the Pentagon might be saying "Look We don't want any trouble from anyone out to make a Name for themselves. so if you have anything you have been holding out or that is ready too go Speak now or forever hold your peace."
But i am sure most will and have seen other wise. Either Way it's a tough act to fallow

Any way the SAW mode of the XM8 i thought was just an extra i mean most of the more reliable stuff, I read made me think the M249 would stay on. Heck even the German Army who first bought the G36 are looking at a new HK made Minimi Clone. then again maybe they mean the SAW mode for lighter forces like say Airborne who need a lighter supply chain too keep moving, well the M249's sticks with Heavier Forces who don't mind the extra Weight. but i am off topic and rambling.

The list of contenders is going too be interesting and you might see a Bull-pup or two try there luck. Heck the IMI small arms Division was no doubt dancing in the streets they have been trying too get us to pick up there Tavor because the ISDF can't buy a assault rifle that is not at-least 50% US made. maybe some ZM kits, yup this should be entertaining.

Beaugeste93
13 Mar 05,, 04:04
I just read in a gun magazine that the army has placed an order with FN for 5000 SCAR rifles. I'm familiar with the XM8 but don't know much about the SCAR, other than what the article said: modular 5.56 and 7.62 NATO rifles in carbine, rifle, and "sniper" (read designated marksman) configurations. Perhaps one of you knows how that relates to the above article.
Maybe HK stepped on their crank with the army...

Bill
13 Mar 05,, 04:09
There's a thread on here somewhere about the SCAR.

It's just for SOCOM, and if you ask me, it's just to fill their 'one new weapon every year to keep us commandos happy' quota.

I don't see how it offers anything over the current M-4A1.

Beaugeste93
13 Mar 05,, 05:12
There's a thread on here somewhere about the SCAR.

It's just for SOCOM, and if you ask me, it's just to fill their 'one new weapon every year to keep us commandos happy' quota.

I don't see how it offers anything over the current M-4A1.


You may be right. Swapping uppers is probably easier than swapping barrels will be on the SCAR. I can see the point of having the same basic weapon in 5.56 and 7.62...if it works.

Bill
13 Mar 05,, 16:11
There have been .308 AR variants around for ages.

SCAR is just another new toy for the guys with the ski-masks.

Whatever, i'm sure it works if they want it, and they do get shot at an awful lot, so i don't begrudge them their toys.

sniperdude411
14 Mar 05,, 18:18
There have been .308 AR variants around for ages.

SCAR is just another new toy for the guys with the ski-masks.

Whatever, i'm sure it works if they want it, and they do get shot at an awful lot, so i don't begrudge them their toys.

Very well-said. Gotta respect those guys.