On January 3rd, the U.S. Army announced that it had awarded Winchester Ammunition a contract worth $20 million to develop the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) ammunition. These contracts will fund development on the 6.8mm cartridge for the NGSW project.
What is the Next Generation Squad Weapon?
While it may seem like the Army is forever trying to replace the M4, the NGSW program represents a major step forward in that regard. Theoretically, the winning candidate would produce a weapon that replaces the M4, the M249, the M240, and both the 5.56 and 7.62 rounds. The new multi-platform weapon must be chambered in a 6.8mm round, as well as having a rifle and support weapon function.
Current candidates in the Next Generation Squad Weapon program include Sig Sauer and Beretta Defense Technologies. According to the Army Times, the Army plans to make a selection in 2022 between the two manufacturers. Although, as we’ve seen in the past, the Army is often slow to move its feet.
Winchester’s Role as Ammunition Supplier
No matter which company wins the contract to produce the guns, Winchester will take a part in the ammo manufacturing. Winchester is the largest supplier of ammunition to the Army. As the operator of the Lake City Ammo Plant, Winchester would take point on any eventual standardized production of 6.8mm rounds. The Next Generation Squad Weapon’s ammo production is part of the $20 million contract. Furthermore, these contracts are part of the $8 billion contract that Winchester holds to operate Lake City.
“Winchester is honored to have been selected by the U.S. Army to execute Next Generation Squad Weapon program activities at Lake City,” said Brett Flaugher, president of Winchester Ammunition. “The NGSW program represents our military’s significant investment in the future U.S. Warfighter, and the work being performed under these contracts is the genesis for generations of NGSW programs to come.”