If an army is only as effective as the weapons it carries, America may soon be armed with new guns that will help cement its profile as one of the best equipped armies in the world.
Defence contractor Textron, whose headquarters is in Rhode Island, is a subsidiary of AII Corporation, and it is leading a project that will offer the American military the next generation of guns.
The company hopes its new rifle will become “standard issue” for American soldiers, according to an article in the online publication “the war zone,” in late March.
But convincing the U.S. Army to adopt a new gun is not an easy task. A host of manufacturers are, of course, bidding on the project, but AII hopes its latest developments in arms will give it a “leg up” over its competitors. Furthermore, the company has worked with the Army for well over a decade, supplying the military with guns and ammunition. The latest announcement from Textron highlighted the first of five guns it hopes to supply to the Army, part of what’s called NGSW-R, or next generation squad weapons.
The company said it is working on advanced small arms, using what it calls cased-telescope (CT) ammunition. This technology allows ammunition to tuck the bullet inside a case with gun powder, shrinking the overall length of the gun. In a traditional cartridge, the bullet sits on top of the metal case. This advancement will make the weapon weigh less of a burden for soldiers who have to carry it, sometimes long distances. AII first introduced a CT rifle in 2018. Because the rifle shares many characteristics with the Army’s current weapons, AII’s technology is an attractive option. Were the Army to choose an entirely new rifle, there would be a “domino effect” throughout the ranks, and everything from ammunition to training would be dramatically affected. Hence, choosing one that doesn’t differ vastly from what is currently used will make it easier for all involved, from the rank and file to other personnel.
The Army hopes that its new rifle will adapt to using a suppressor, something that, until now, has been used by special forces more than rank and file soldiers. Suppressors help reduce muzzle flash and noise from firing, thereby reducing the overall noise of warfare and making communication between troops easier. Additionally, the Army hopes to add more complicated technologies down the road. Most notably, they are seeking a miniature computer that can actually be used in the field, one that will help soldiers zero in on targets quickly and efficiently.
The Army has thus far been impressed with Textron’s submissions. In 2018, it noted that the firm’s component for next generation squad automatic rifle (NGSAR) was excellent, coming in well above the requirements the Army had set forth in its proposal. Down the line, the company hopes to get the Army on board for several new advancements, including new rifles and ammunition. Textron Systems’ Senior Vice President of Applied Technologies & Advanced Programs, Wayne Prender, said in a news release that, “Our CT weapons and ammunition offer the growth path to a true, next generation small arms weapon for U.S. war fighters, including increased lethality at longer ranges, while also delivering significant weight reductions to the war fighter.”
Modern warfare increasingly requires advanced technologies, and of course AII Systems is not the only player in the field. Sig Sauer is another arms manufacturer preparing a bid for a version of its MCX line, part of its AR-15/m16 family of rifles.
It will take some time for the U.S. Army to sort through bids and proposals before making a decision in time for the budget approval in 2020. The end goal, however, is that U.S. Army soldiers will be carrying new weapons by 2022, ones that have increased in accuracy, speed and lethality.