A belt of rounds feed into an M2A1 .50 caliber heavy machine gun as a Marinewith Company A, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry West (SOI-West), fires as part of basic infantry training Sept. 20, 2016, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. The M2A1 is new to the Marine Corps and has set headspace and timing which is an upgrade from the older M1A1 which requires manual adjustments. SOI-West trains riflemen, infantrymen and assault amphibian crewman in Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) skills across the infantry training continuum.
U.S. Marines assigned to Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires an M2A1 machine gun during live-training in Jordan as part of Eager Lion 2018. Eager Lion is a capstone training engagement that provides U.S. forces and the Jordan Armed Forces an opportunity to rehearse operating in a coalition environment and to pursue new ways to collectively address threats to regional security and improve overall maritime security.
Cpl. Christopher Neumann aims his GAU-21 .50 caliber machine gun during a close air support exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 19, 2016. Neumann is participating in Rim of the Pacific 2016, a multinational military exercise, from June 29 to Aug. 8 in and around the Hawaiian Islands. RIMPAC offers the U.S. military the opportunity to train with partners and allies in the Pacific region. Neumann, a native of Wells, Maine, is a UH-1Y Huey crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter 367, which supports III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The U.S. Marine Corps is looking for .50 caliber ammunition that is 30 percent lighter than the linked belts it is currently using.
Lightweight .50 Caliber Ammunition
According to Military.com, Marine Corps Systems Command has issued a RFI to gauge industry’s “interest and capabilities” for producing .50 caliber ammunition that weighs less than the “M33 .50 cartridge in the DODIC A555 linked configuration.”
“A belt of 100 Lightweight .50 Caliber cartridges with 101 links shall have a threshold overall weight of 24.6 lbs. or 15% weight savings compared to the legacy A555 configuration (T),” the RFI says. “A belt of 100 lightweight cartridges with 101 links shall have an objective overall weight savings of more than 20.3 lbs. or 30% compared to the legacy A555 configuration (O).”
The technical requirements also say the overall length of the new, lightweight .50 caliber ammunition should be 5.45 inches. In addition, the cartridge’s action time (overall primer ignition; propellant burning; time taken for the bullet to exit the barrel) when conditioned and functioned at around 70 degrees fahrenheit should be no more than four milliseconds. Meanwhile, the average velocity of the 30 sample cartridges “shall be 2,905 feet per second (fps) ± 30 fps at 78 feet from the muzzle of the weapon. The standard deviation of the velocity shall not exceed 36 fps.”
Marine Corps Systems Command says the new cartridge should reliably function in the M2HB machine gun; M2A1 machine gun; GAU-19 gatling gun; GAU-21 aircraft machine gun; and a M107 sniper rifle.
Interested parties have until June 1, 2018 to submit responses. To read the RFI and the requirements in full, visit fbo.gov.
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