Sig Sauer Inc. was awarded a $4,500,000,000 contract for the manufacture of the U.S. Army's XM5 Next Generation Squad Weapon Rifle, the XM250 NGSW Automatic Rifle and the 6.8 Common Cartridge Family of Ammunition, a Pentagon contract announcement said April 21.
For soldiers involved in close-quarters combat, the XM5 will eventually replace the M4/M4A1 carbine rifle, while the XM250 will replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. The XM5 weighs about two pounds more than the M4 it will replace, Madore said, while the XM250 weighs about four pounds less than the M249.
Additionally, both new rifles will use the new 6.8 mm common cartridge family of ammunition as well as a new fire control system.
XM157 Fire Control system
The new rifles will be paired with the XM157 Fire Control system, which will increase accuracy and lethality for the close-combat force. The XM157 integrates, among other things, a variable magnification optic, backup etched reticle, laser range finder, ballistic calculator, atmospheric sensor suite, compass, visible and infrared aiming lasers, and a digital display overlay.
"We should note that this is the first time ... in 65 years [that] the Army will field a new weapon system of this nature: a rifle, an automatic rifle, a fire control system, and a new caliber family of ammunition," Army Brig. Gen. Larry Q. Burris, the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team director, was quoted as saying in a separate Pentagon report.
Burris said the Army was able to do in 27 months what might otherwise have taken anywhere from eight to 10 years.
It's expected that the first unit of soldiers involved in close-quarters combat will be equipped with the new system in the fourth quarter of 2023, Burris said. Soldiers involved in close-quarters combat include 11B infantrymen, 19D cavalry scouts,12B combat engineers, 68W medics, and 13F forward observers.
New 6.8mm Ammunition
Army Brig. Gen. William M. Boruff, the program executive officer in the Joint Program Executive Office, Armaments and Ammunition, said the new 6.8 mm ammunition will initially be produced by SIG Sauer, but that the Army will eventually take over production of ammunition at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri. After that, SIG Sauer will become a second-source provider of the new ammunition.
"The capability increase that these weapons provide over the M4 and the M249 is what's really exciting," Army Col. Scott Madore, the project manager for soldier lethality, said. "It's a significant change: the way it fires, the way when you apply that to these weapons systems, it improves or increases the probability of a [hit] for the individual soldier. It reduces aim error, and it's a game changer. That's really what excites me about these two systems as we saw them go through testing."
The initial ten-year contract with SIG Sauer allows for up to 250,000 weapons to be purchased, but that allows for other services, such as the Marines, to also be fielded the weapons if they express interest. For the Army's close-combat and special operations forces, about 120,000 weapons will be needed.