Army

M16 being replaced? Army testing new rifles, bigger ammo

Army researchers are testing half a dozen ammunition variants for a new prototype assault rifle that fires a larger round in order to introduce a possible M16/M4 replacement by 2020, according to Army Times. The goal is to create a new light machine gun and inform the next-generation individual assault rifle/round combo, the report says. The weapon designs that are being tested will be “unconventional,” officials said. Intermediate calibers being tested include the .260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, .264 USA as well as other noncommercial intermediate calibers, including cased telescoped ammo, Army officials said. If selected, the weapon could resolve a close-quarters weapons debate about calibers that has influenced military small arms. “There is a long-running debate, going back almost 100 years now, about the optimal, optimum small arm,” said retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, author of the 2016 book “Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk.” If successful, the new rifle and round combination would give troops a weapon they can carry with about the same number of rounds as the current 5.56 mm but with greater range and accuracy in their firepower — with little change in weight. The new rifle would likely replace the M16/M4 platform, which has been in the hands of troops since the 1960s and undergone multiple modifications and upgrades.

Explosion at Army ammunition plant in Independence, Missouri kills at least 1

An explosion Tuesday at a sprawling ammunition plant near Kansas City, Missouri, killed one person and injured three others, the U.S. Army said. The Army Joint Munitions Command said in a statement that the blast happened at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, just east of Kansas City. A spokeswoman said no other details, including what caused the explosion, were immediately available. Federal workplace safety officials will investigate an explosion that killed one worker and injured four others at an Army ammunition plant near Kansas City, Missouri. Scott Allen with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration says he has few immediate details about Tuesday afternoon’s blast at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, just east of Kansas City. But he says OSHA investigators are heading to the scene. The 77-year-old plant sits on nearly 4,000 acres and is the first of a dozen Army-run small-arms factories. The plant makes small-caliber ammunition and tests its reliability. It also operates the NATO test center. The property has more than 400 buildings and nine warehouses, and has a storage capacity of more than 700,000 square feet. Its workforce includes 29 Department of Army civilians and a soldier to provide contract oversight. It has a governmental staff payroll of $2.9 million. Mark Carrick, deputy fire chief in Independence, said the plant has its own fire brigade that is working on the explosion.

US Army testing a device that could give soldiers a ‘third arm’

Traditional weaponry has often been a burden to soldiers, placing added weight on their bodies, slowing reaction at times when all of their facilities are needed. Future troops may wind up having a “third arm” to help offset the weight. The Army Research Laboratory is testing a device that attaches to ground troops’ protective vests, potentially letting Soldiers’ hands be freed up for other tasks. “We’re looking at a new way for the Soldier to interface with the weapon,” Zac Wingard, a mechanical engineer for the lab’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate told the U.S. Army’s website. “It is not a product; it is simply a way to study how far we can push the ballistic performance of future weapons without increasing Soldier burden.” The goal of the device would put all of the weight on a soldier’s body, allowing them to potentially have a more lethal weapon, perhaps adding as much as 20 pounds to their traditional combat load of more than 110 pounds, while not adding any burden. “With this configuration right now, we can go up to 20 pounds and take all of that weight off of the arms,” added Dan Baechle, a mechanical engineer. The device is made out of carbon fiber composite and it can be used in the prone position on either side of a soldier’s body. It could also improve accuracy and potentially help soldiers deal with recoil, but further testing is needed. Currently, researchers are using an M4 carbine to test the device, but other weapons, such as a M249 squad automatic weapon or M240B machine gun may also be tested.

Interesting..  But, this former soldier is not convinced yet.

U.S. Army to get laser that can zap drones

Lockheed Martin said Thursday it has finished a 60-kilowatt laser system for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) and is preparing to hand it over to the Army for further testing. In initial tests, the company achieved 58 kilowatts of power but expects its laser to reach its full potential by the time of its delivery in the next few months. The laser is what the company calls a “combined fiber” laser beam, bringing together individual lasers to form a single, stronger beam. Lockheed has been testing it at an installation in Bothell, Wash., and plans to ship it to an Army installation in Huntsville, Ala., in the next few months. “We’re really at the dawn of an era of the utility of laser weapons,” said Robert Afzal, senior fellow for laser and sensor systems at Lockheed Martin. The Army’s specialized military vehicles “can now carry something which is small enough and powerful enough for what we believe will be militarily useful.” Multiple military agencies and defense companies have been working on laser weapon capabilities. In 2014, Boeing published a video of its 10-kilowatt laser destroying a mortar in flight. Proponents say lasers could be cheaper than traditional munitions systems because they don’t require expensive projectiles and they don’t need to be reloaded. That could make the system useful in taking down airborne adversaries, such as off-the-shelf drones. The idea of an off-the-shelf drone fleet commanded by a non-state entity presents new challenges for a global military establishment that has focused for centuries on war with other governments. For example, Gen. David Perkins said this week that a U.S. ally had taken down an adversary’s off-the-shelf quad-copter — which can be purchased online for a few hundred dollars — with a multimillion-dollar Patriot missile. Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said: “That’s $3 million to shoot down a three-or-four-hundred-dollar drone. . . . What if you could do that with a beam of light that costs a buck?” More powerful projectiles such as Hellfire missiles are also more likely to cause collateral damage, making them less practical in certain situations. Proponents say laser weaponry could be more precise and ultimately more effective against small airborne targets. Lasers “hit targets at the speed of light, they cost almost nothing per shot, and they have an almost unlimited number of times they can be used,” said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the nonprofit Lexington Institute, which receives funding from defense firms including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. “A medium-sized laser should be able to take out any number of drones in a very short period of time because they are so fragile.” The Navy has already deployed a ship-based laser that it says is ready for combat use, but the Army faces a unique set of challenges. To protect American soldiers from low-budget drone fleets, the Army would need a highly mobile laser that can sit on the back of a truck. The agency would have to find a way to carry enough battery power to fire continually without the truck overheating. Such a large power source isn’t a problem if it’s stationary on a ship or military installation, but moving it around the battlefield might be difficult. With the 60-kilowatt laser announced this morning, Lockheed says that it has reached that goal and that the weaponry is ready to be deployed. “In terms of the maturity of this technology to be field-able on an Army vehicle, this technology is ready for that,” Afzal said. The company said its initial testing showed the laser to be near physical limits for accuracy and reasonably energy-efficient, directing 43 percent of electricity used to power it directly into the laser itself, helping it deal with the mobility problem. The system is designed to be a low-weight solution that sits on a ground-based vehicle called a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT), essentially a truck designed for carrying large artillery. The Army already has laser weapons it is testing, but Lockheed’s laser may have advantages in power and portability. The 60-killowatt laser has its origins in the Defense Department’s Robust electric laser initiative, which started in 2010 and ended when a 15-kilowatt laser was developed. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has its own initiative to create a turret-based laser that can fire downward from an aircraft.

Very cool!!     🙂

Army picks Sig Sauer’s P320 handgun to replace M9 service pistol

The U.S. Army on Thursday awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth $580 million to make the next service pistol based on the company’s P320 handgun. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, the maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program. “We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice,” Ron Cohen, chief executive officer of Sig Sauer, said in a statement to Military.com here at SHOT Show, the world’s largest gun show, taking place this week in the city. “Securing this contract is a testimony to Sig Sauer employees, their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most reliable firearms in the world,” Cohen added. The Army launched its long-awaited XM17 MHS competition in late August 2015 to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol. “By maximizing full and open competition across our industry partners, we have optimized private sector advancements in handguns, ammunition and magazines, and the end result will ensure a decidedly superior weapon system for our warfighters,” Army Acquisition Executive Steffanie Easter said in a press release. One of the major goals of the effort was to adopt a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm. The U.S. military replaced the .45 caliber 1911 pistol with the M9 in 1985 and began using the 9mm NATO round at that time. In their statements, Army and Sig officials didn’t specify what caliber the new Sig Sauer pistol will be. Sig touts the P320 model product as “modular” and “adaptable,” with interchangeable grips, multiple sizes and calibers that can be converted between 9mm, .357SIG and .40SGW. “From calibers, to pistol size, to the grip fit best suited for the shooter, the P320 is the most adaptable pistol available today,” the company says in promotional materials. Two sources confirmed to Military.com that Sig submitted to the Army .40-caliber and 9mm pistols for consideration. One source said the Army ultimately selected the 9mm version. Shortly after the contract announcement, Sig officials celebrated here at the show. Staff at the Sig Sauer booth set out champagne flutes for a celebratory toast. The Army in December down-selected to two finalists for the competition: Sig and Glock, which had submitted its Glock 17 and Glock 19 models for consideration. Given the size of the contract, Glock is widely expected to protest the decision. Brandie Collins, communications manager for Glock, said she had not been briefed on the contract award but wished the winners well. Army officials informed Beretta USA and FN America at the show that they had been dropped from the competition in the recent down-select decision, according to a service source who is not authorized to speak to the press. But confusion reigned as reporters informed company officials of the Army’s announcement. The decision formally ends the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market.

Thank God!  The M9 is an awful weapon.  But, it was cheap.  So, Beretta was awarded that contract back in the ’80s because, well, it was cheap.  As someone who has been a “field grade” Army officer, and fired the M9 both on the range here in the states, and “downrange” in Afghanistan, I’m glad to see that piece of garbage retired.  The M9 jammed up on me more than once.  That’s why all of my personal sidearms (including my conceal carry firearm) are Sig Sauer weapons.  Sig is the Cadillac of firearms, and the Army is making a wise choice moving forward with this selection, and awarding the contract to Sig for this far superior sidearm.  Our troops deserve to have the best.  And, this is a step in the right direction.  Outstanding!!   🙂

US Army asks for biodegradable ammo

The U.S. Army gets through a lot of ammunition thanks to the amount of training it carries out. But that ammunition doesn’t come without waste which slowly degrades over hundreds of years polluting whatever ground (and nearby water sources) it happens to fall upon. So the Department of Defense (DoD) decided to do something about it, and is requesting environmentally friendly ammunition for use during training exercises. The request was made via the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Specifically, the DoD wants “biodegradable training ammunition loaded with specialized seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants.” The ammunition the DoD wants to replace with biodegradable alternatives includes “low velocity 40mm grenades; 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars; shoulder launched munitions; 120mm tank rounds; and 155mm artillery rounds.” There’s also cartridge cases and sabot petals, which can either lay on the ground or end up buried beneath it. Sourcing the seeds for use in this new ammunition won’t be a problem as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) already bioengineered them so as not to germinate for several months, allowing time for the materials containing them to sufficiently biodegrade. The seeds can then take up any remaining contaminants as they grow, further reducing harm to the environment. As for what materials could be used to form the ammunition, the DoD points to materials used for manufacturing water bottles, plastic containers and other composite plastics already on the market today. Any contractor attempting to produce these bullets for the DoD will need to progress through a three phase SBIR process. Phase one involves demonstrating a production process for the biodegradable materials for 40mm-120mm training rounds. Phase two involves proving the fabrication process and passing government ballistic tests. Finally, phase three will involve working with ammunition contractors to turn the tech into a supply of training ammunition. If successful, the use of biodegradable ammunition will lead to less ground contamination while at the same time ensuring anywhere training exercises are carried out will be left rich in plant life.

Wow..  Where to even begin with this?  This is just another example of political correctness gone crazy…and this takes it to a whole new dangerous level.  The ONLY thing the Army (or any of the other military branches) should be concerned with is lethality; the ability of that soldier, sailor, airman or marine to be able to be the most lethal fighting force on the battlefield.  They have ONE job; to win.  Anything that deters from that job shouldn’t even be considered…let alone be pursued.  As someone who has spent many years as a “field grade” Army officer both in training environments, and “down range,” I cannot emphasize the importance of putting all of this ridiculous political correctness and social experimentation on the extreme back-burner…and get back to mission focus;  the enemy.  Under Obama we’ve seen an emphasis on transgender issues and all sorts of other nonsense…and we’ve also seen a U.S. Navy ship commandeered by the Iranian navy.  Our sailors were used as propaganda pieces by the thugs in Tehran because their officers and NCO’s lacked the necessary training to deal with that situation….which should NEVER have happened.  We were made to look weak and inept…because we were.  Hey..  I’m ALL for the idea of biodegradable ammo.  How can anyone be against that idea?  BUT..  It should meet a few basic, common sense metrics..which I doubt they have.  For example..  It needs to be just as lethal, if not more lethal, than the regular ammo used by troops.  It also shouldn’t be more expensive than regular ammo; something I SERIOUSLY doubt it is.  Anything green is like something organic; MUCH more expensive.  Also, this new ammo cannot be damaging to the weapon systems firing it.  We cannot afford to be repairing weapon systems while sticking our chests out and proclaiming it’s for the good of the environment.  Finally, it needs to be readily available.  Oftentimes, “green” options (like car charging stations) aren’t nearly available as non-green options.  Those are just some basic, common sense metrics that need to be considered…and yet were conveniently left out of this article…because it would have undermined the liberal agenda of it’s author.  The military needs to train as it fights.  To separate them as this article suggests, puts our troops and our national security at risk.

New Army regulations let soldiers wear hijabs, turbans and religious beards

The U.S. Army has issued a directive on grooming and appearance regulations that allows observant Sikh men and conservative Muslim women to wear religious head coverings. The policy, announced Tuesday, also permits Sikh soldiers to maintain their beards and female soldiers to wear their hair in dreadlocks. “The Army has reviewed its policies to ensure soldiers can serve in a manner consistent with their faith so that we can recruit from the broadest pool of America’s best,” Army Secretary Eric Fanning said in a statement. “Over the last year, the Army conducted rigorous evaluation and validation of how commonly requested accommodations would impact force effectiveness,” Fanning said. “Our goal has always been to ensure soldier readiness and safety while providing reasonable accommodations for these established and recognized faith practices.” Soldiers will still have to submit their requests for brigade-level approval, the Army Times reported.  The directive states that since 2009, the religious accommodation requests received by the Army have mostly come from soldiers wanting to wear a hijab (Muslim woman’s headscarf) or a Sikh patka (turban) with an uncut beard and hair. Soldiers, however, will still be required to wear combat helmets or other protective gear when training or deployment requires it. The changes come after West Point graduate and Bronze Star recipient Capt. Simratpal Singh filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department in 2016. Singh was permitted to wear the beard and turban in the Army until a ban was imposed in the 1980s, according to the Army Times. “Military experts have always questioned why the U.S. military has restricted Sikhs from serving,” said Eric Baxter, Senior Counsel at Becket Law, which acted as co-counsel on Captain Singh’s behalf. “Our Army will be stronger and our nation safer with Sikhs serving alongside their fellow Americans.” The military had previously approved other religious head wear. A directive from 2009 states that “a Jewish yarmulke may be worn with the uniform whenever a military cap, hat, or other headgear is not prescribed.”

Wow..  As a former “field grade” Army officer, I’m glad I’m no longer on active duty.  This is a stunningly poor decision for a variety of reasons.  But, I’m sure it was one pushed by Obama, and his Sec. of the Army appointee, Eric Fanning.  It’s political correctness gone crazy…and frankly puts our nation at risk.  Let’s be clear..  There is NO right to serve in the Army, or any other military service.  It is a privilege; NOT a right.  Furthermore, the military discriminates all day long.  You cannot serve if you’re unable to do so many pushups, or run a 2 mile course in a certain time, or are too fat.  And, there are standards which MUST be uniform.  If you don’t like those standards, then you don’t have to join.  Making exceptions for whatever reason, however well-meaning, is dubious business.  And, with all of the social re-engineering that the military has had to endure with gays, and now the transgender nonsense, this is just the latest issue that will have negative consequences and opens a Pandora’s box for others to want exception made for their issue.  Where will it end?