The US Army will select its Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) rifle and automatic rifle supplier in the last quarter of this year, Shephard Media revealed citing an army official.
The revelation comes days after the army awarded Wisconsin-based optical equipment manufacturer Vortex Optics a $2.7 billion contract to supply 250,000 NGSW fire control systems over 10 years.
The army will select the supplier from two finalists — True Velocity and Sig Sauer, Inc. — after three other contenders dropped out between September 2019 and November 2021.
More Effective Rifles
Launched in 2017, the NGSW program was established to replace the 5.56x45mm caliber M4 Carbine, M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon), and 7.62x51mm caliber M240 machine guns with rifles that use a common 6.8mm caliber cartridge and fire control system.
The army wanted to equip its soldiers with a higher caliber weapon, as the present rifle rounds were less effective due to improvements in adversary body armor. According to Military Times, the 6.8mm round even outperforms the higher-caliber 7.62x51mm round in “range, accuracy, and lethality,” despite its lighter weight.
The NGSW’s maximum weight has been set at 12 lbs (5.4 kg) including attachments, around five lbs or 2.2 kg less than the M249 SAW and more than double that of the M240 machine gun, allowing the soldier to carry extra equipment due to the lower rifle weight.
Maj. Wyatt Ottmar was quoted by National Interest as saying, “current weapons and calibers lack the required lethality growth against protected individual targets.”
“The NGSW will incorporate improved ergonomics, signature-suppressing capabilities, data power transfer, new rail designs, a lightweight case, [and] increased performance at range,” he added.
The Two Finalists
According to 19FortyFive, the True Velocity/General Dynamics/Beretta option has a bullpup design “with the magazines loaded behind the trigger group,” presenting “a very compact platform.” The outlet added that the rifle design allows for a “long barrel, higher muzzle velocities, and increased range.”
True Velocity’s rifle and automatic rifle variants are essentially the same, with minor differences, such as the bipod option that comes with the automatic.
The SIG Sauer rifle also closely resembles the MCX currently in use, with a 13-inch barrel and collapsible buttstock. It is a short-stroke gas piston system with similar ergonomic control to that of the M4 carbine.
For the automatic rifle, the company is offering its SIG Sauer Lightweight Belt-Fed Machine Gun, which is much lighter than the M249 SAW and features “internal recoil buffer cuts,” to minimize recoil.