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Army to send out the next generation of guns: Weapon of the week

Jan 16

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American troops will be getting some new weaponry heading into 2024, as detailed in the second episode of Weapons and Warfare. After 27 months of testing and evaluations, the M7 rifle and the M250 machine gun from Sig Sauer will be the next generation of rifles for close-contact Army troops. That, combined with the M157 Fire Control from Vortex Optics, will be a significant step up from the frontline operators’ previous guns, the M4 and M249.

The M7, which was known through the testing phase as the XM5 and then the XM7, beat out competition from General Dynamics-OTS and Textron Systems to become the long-awaited replacement for the M4 and its predecessor, the M16.

The M7 is longer, weighs more and carries fewer rounds, but military brass said the change from a 5.56 mm round to the new 6.8 mm cartridge will help improve accuracy, range and stopping power. The new rounds can also reportedly penetrate any type of body armor, giving the military’s frontline combat troops an added advantage.

The M250 machine gun will replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), as well. The M250 is four pounds lighter than its predecessor, is more ergonomic, has an improved gas system and will deliver the same 6.8mm cartridge as the M7.

Both of the new guns will be used with the M157 Fire Control system, adopted by the Army in 2022. This weapon is a high-tech scope and communication system designed to improve the skill level of the operators. It combines the latest technology with actual optics to increase the range of effectiveness by hundreds of meters. Furthermore, if the power in the unit fails, the optics are still usable.

The M157 is built to be lighter and stronger to help the optics system work as reliably as the rifle it sits on. In a fraction of a second, the Fire Control System can sense direction, wind elevation and bullet drop, allowing the operator to put sites on the enemy efficiently. It can also connect with other devices and share images and information from other team members, giving the user a clearer picture of the battlefield.

The Army plans for the 101st Airborne Division to be the first unit equipped with this new weaponry by March 2024.

Access the full Weapons and Warfare episode here.

Access all Weapons and Warfare podcast episodes here.

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[Ryan Robertson]

CHRISTMAS MAY BE GONE, BUT AMERICA’S GROUND TROOPS WILL SOON BE GETTING A NEW LITTLE SOMETHING IN 2024.

[RALPHIE ‘A CHRISTMAS STORY]

“AN OFFICIAL RED RYDER, CARBINE ACTION, 200 SHOT ROUND AIR RIFLE!

[Ryan Robertson]

NO, NOT THE RED RYDER, INSTEAD IT’S SOMETHING WITH A LITTLE MORE KICK.

MEET THE M7 AND THE M250, BOTH BUILT BY SIG SAUER. AFTER 27 MONTHS OF TESTING AND EVALUATIONS, THEY WERE SELECTED AS THE NEXT GENERATION OF RIFLES FOR AMERICA’S CLOSE-CONTACT TROOPS. ADD TO THAT THE M157 FIRE CONTROL, MADE BY VORTEX OPTICS, AND UNCLE SAM’S FRONT-LINE OPERATORS WILL BE ARMED WITH WEAPONS THAT SHOULD BE A SIGNIFICANT STEP UP FROM THEIR PREDECESSORS, THE M4 AND THE M249. 

THE M7, KNOWN THROUGH THE TESTING PHASE AS THE XM5, AND THEN THE XM7, BEAT OUT COMPETITION FROM GENERAL DYNAMICS-OTS AND TEXTRON SYSTEMS TO BECOME THE LONG-AWAITED REPLACEMENT FOR THE M4 AND ITS PREDECESSOR, THE  M16. ON THE SURFACE LEVEL THE CHANGE TO THE M7 MIGHT BE A HEAD-SCRATCHER FOR SOME. IT’S LONGER, WEIGHS MORE, AND CARRIES FEWER ROUNDS. BUT MILITARY BRASS SAYS THE CHANGE FROM A 5.56MM ROUND TO THE NEW  6.8MM CARTRIDGE WILL HELP IMPROVE ACCURACEY, RANGE AND STOPPING POWER. ADD TO THAT THE NEW ROUNDS CAN REPORTEDLY PENETRATE RUSSIAN AND CHINESE BODY ARMOR AND IT APPEARS THE MILITARY’S FRONT-LINE COMBAT TROOPS COULD SOON HAVE AN ADDED ADVANTAGE WHEN THE BULLETS START FLYING.

NEXT UP, THE M250. REPLACING THE M249 SQUAD AUTOMATIC WEAPON.

COMING IN AT A FULL FOUR POUNDS LESS THAN IT’S PREDESSESOR THE M250 IS A MAJOR LEAP FORWARD FOR SEVERAL REASONS. IT’S MORE ERGONOMIC, HAS AN IMPROVED GAS SYSTEM AND WILL DELIVER THE SAME 6.8MM CARTRIDGE AS THE M7. WITH AN IMPROVED BI-POD MADE OF TITAINIUM AND AN EASIER LOADING OPERATION, IT’S A USER-FRIENDLY WEAPON ALMOST RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX. HOW FRIENDLY? A SOLDIER WITH THE ARMY’S 75th RANGER REGIMENT SAID “I would certainly take this weapon into combat today.”

AND THAT BRINGS US TO WHAT MANY ARE CALLING THE REAL GAME CHANGER, THE M157 FIRE CONTROL SYSTEM. IF THE NAME IS CONFUSING, THE OPTIC AND IT’S OPERATION ARE NOT. IN THE SIMPLEST TERMS IT IS A HIGH-TECH SCOPE AND COMMUNICATION SYSTEM DESIGNED TO IMPROVE THE SKILL LEVEL OF THE OPERATORS USING IT BY COMBINING THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY WITH ACTUAL OPTICS TO INCREASE THE RANGE OF EFFECTIVENESS BY HUNDREDS OF METERS.  FOR ALL OF THE HIGH-TECH ELEMENTS, THE MAKERS OF THE M157 WANT TO MAKE SURE IT’S NOT KNOWN AS A “SMART SCOPE” THAT’S BECAUSE SHOULD THE POWER IN THE UNIT FAIL, THE OPTICS ARE STILL USABLE, WHICH IS A BIG DEAL IN A FIREFIGHT. BUT THAT’S A “JUST IN CASE” FEATURE. 

BUILT WITH SMALLER AND MORE ROBUST PARTS THE IDEA IS THE M157 WILL BE AS RELIABLE AS THE RIFLE IT SITS ON. SO WHAT CAN USERS EXPECT? IN A FRACTION OF A SECOND THE FIRE CONTROL SYSTEM CAN SENSE DIRECTION, WIND, ELEVATION, AND BULLET DROP, ALLOWING THE OPERATOR TO PUT SITES ON THE ENEMY IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE. IT ALSO HAS THE ABILITY TO CONNECT WITH OTHER DEVICES TO SHARE THE PICTURE THE OPERATOR IS LOOKING AT OR RECEIVE IMAGES AND INFORMATION FROM OTHER TEAM MEMBERS, GIVING THE USER A CLEARER PICTURE OF THE BATTLEFIELD.

SO, WHO GETS THE NEW STUFF FIRST? THE ARMY SAYS THEY PLAN FOR THE 101st AIRBORNE DIVISION TO BE THE FIRST UNIT EQUIPPED THE NEXT GENERATION SQUAD WEAPONS BY MARCH OF THIS YEAR.

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