Staff Sgt. Jonathan Anderson, 2017 Army Reserve Best Warrior NCO Runner-up, shoots a qualification table with a M249 squad automatic weapon. 2017 Army Reserve Best Warrior winners and runners up train at Fort Devens, Mass. for three weeks to prepare for the Department of Army Best Warrior Competition.
Pfc. Miranda Argueta, a native of Dallas, Texas, assigned to the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, U.S. Army Alaska, fires the M249 light machine gun at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Feb. 23, 2018. The Soldiers conducted the live-fire training to hone the warrior tasks and skills that are fundamental to individual readiness.
An 890th Missile Security Forces Squadron security forces member lights up the firing range with a M249 machine gun during weapon requalification on the firing range at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Feb. 9, 2018. The M249 is a light machine gun with a max rate of fire of 800 rounds per minute.
The U.S. Army is developing a new system dubbed the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW). A key step in that development process is to replace its M249 SAW with a Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR). To do so, the Army needs to look at prototypes. Consequently, Army Contracting Command has issued what’s called a draft Prototype Opportunity Notice (PON). Basically, the service wants comments from industry before it rolls out the final PON. Here’s an overview of the NGSAR, via the draft PON synopsis:
The NGSAR is the first variant of the Next Generation Squad Weapons. NGSAR will address operational needs identified in various capability based assessments and numerous after action reports. The NGSAR is the planned replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) in Brigade Combat Teams (BCT). It will combine the firepower and range of a machine gun with the precision and ergonomics of a rifle, yielding capability improvements in accuracy, range, and lethality. The weapon will be lightweight and fire lightweight ammunition, improving Soldier mobility, survivability, and firing accuracy. Soldiers will employ the NGSAR against close and extended range targets in all terrains and conditions. The NGSAR support concept will be consistent and comparable to the M249 SAW involving the Army two-level field and sustainment maintenance system.
The Army wants industry’s comments to the draft PON before March 8. Those comments will then be reviewed and considered for inclusion in the final PON for the NGSAR, which is due out on or near March 9. Proposals are due March 26. Furthermore, the Army is planning on awarding up to five contracts for prototypes that feature a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 and Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) 6.
All prototypes must include the functional weapon; 2,000 rounds of ammunition; fire control (day and night); bipod; suppressor; spare parts required for firing 2,000 rounds; special tools; and operator manuals.
In the draft PON itself, the Army lays out some more specifics as to what it’s looking for in NGSAR prototypes. Here they are:
Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle Requirements
Weapon Weight Only (weapon, sling, bipod, suppressor, no magazine/pouch): 12 pounds or less
Ammunition Weight (no magazine, belt, belt components, box, or feed systems): 20 percent less than an equal brass case weight volume
Dispersion: Semi-Automatic 7 inch Average Mean Radius 400 meters, Automatic 14 inch Average Mean Radius 400 meters
Weapon Length (buttstock extended): 35 inches or less
Fire Control (includes day/night optics): 3 pounds or less
Lethality Requirements: Unavailable
Rate of Fire: 60 rounds per minute with 3 round burst for 15 minutes without a barrel change or cook-off
Suppressor: Flash 80 percent less than unsuppressed M249, Acoustic 140 decibels or less
Weapon Controllability: Soldier firing standing with optic at a 50 meter E-Type silhouette given 3 to 5 round burst must be able to engage in 2-4 seconds placing two rounds 70 percent of the time on target
Read the full draft PON at fbo.gov.
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