Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Army is eschewing the traditional 5.56 mm round for either a 6.5 mm or 6.8 mm round for its new light machine gun, the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR).
The new round will have enough chamber pressure – 60 to 80 kilopounds per square inch (KSI) — to easily smash through the toughest body armor worn by soldiers of the Russian Army and the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force.
The Army says this chamber pressure is about equivalent to that generated by the 120 mm gun on an M1A2 Abrams main battle tank when it opens fire. It plans to field the NGSAR in 2022, or three years earlier than first announced.
NGSAR, which will replace the M249 Squad automatic Weapon (SAW), will fire specially-designed rounds. Two NGSARs will be deployed in each nine-man Army infantry squad, said Col. Geoffrey A. Norman, force development division chief at Army HQ.
The Army also revealed the NGSAR will be lighter than the SAW, which weighs 7.5 kg without its 200 round ammunition magazine. The accuracy of the NGSAR will be maintained by a proprietary fire-control system, which was described as a miniaturized version of the systems utilized by armored fighting vehicles.
The fire control system will automatically adjust the gun and should only fire when the muzzle is lined-up with the target. It will take into account atmospheric conditions, and will automatically center the weapon using an internal system.
Col. Norman said the Army wants to equip its infantry with an automatic rifle “that fires a small bullet at the pressure equivalent to what a tank would fire.”
“The challenge of the 5.56 mm is that it doesn’t have enough mass (to defeat enemy body armor),” said Col. Norman. “But the challenge with 7.62 mm ammo is that it has too much mass and not enough propellant. The right solution is somewhere between the two, where you have enough mass to penetrate but you’re still moving fast enough.”
NGSAR systems will be tested and evaluated by the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team at Fort Benning, Georgia.
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