Infantry Weapons Update

A GUEST POST FROM MONTY

As the conflict in Afghanistan starts to wind down, many NATO armies need to replace their aging and worn out weapon fleets. The problem is that few governments will have enough money in their coffers to budget for new guns before 2020, unless a foray in Iran or elsewhere mandates earlier replacement. But since it takes about 10 years to select and approve a new weapon for service, many nations have begun the search for the next generation. I thought it might be interesting to share a few perspectives on emerging developments.

L129A1 Infantry Sharpshooter Rifle
L129A1 Infantry Sharpshooter Rifle

Calibres

Despite the obvious logic of a single intermediate calibre being able to replace both 5.56 mm NATO and 7.62 mm NATO, both legacy calibres look as though they will remain in NATO service for some years to come. What could change this is if a potential enemy (Russia or China) were to develop one.  Expect to hear more about this in due course. What will change, however, is the wider use of 7.62 mm and the decreased use of 5.56 mm. The larger 7.62 mm calibre is rapidly establishing itself as the machine gun (MG) and designated marksman rifle (DMR) standard, while 5.56 mm will be limited to an assault rifle (AR) and carbine (CAR) role.

The USA recently updated its M855 5.56 mm ammunition to a new standard, the M855A1 EPR. This uses a lead-free construction to deliver improved soft tissue performance. It fragments more reliably by breaking into two or more pieces. It also has better barrier penetration. This round has been very controversial. Firstly, the US Army was accused of stealing someone else’s IP and is currently being sued. Secondly, the round is fired at much higher velocities to overcome the deficiencies of the M4A1’s short 14.5” barrel. This results in higher chamber pressures leading to increased weapon wear and parts breakages.

The flight path of the M855A1 is also quite different from that of the M855, so requires weapons to be re-zeroed if ammunition types are changed. What happens if troops get resupplied in combat with M855 when they’ve been using M855A1? That’s a good question; fortunately M855A1 is being used almost universally within the US Army now.

Finally, the new ammo is much more expensive to make. The US Army is presently involved in litigation with the patent owner of the M855A1 EPR design. When this settles, it is probable that the US Army will gain access to a better TDP, which will allow it to be improved.

M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round
M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round

Meanwhile, the US ARDEC research and development team,  has been looking at advanced lead-free bullet designs, so a further revised round, the M855A2 EPR, is expected to be introduced before too long.

Britain is also working on its own revised 5.56 mm round, the so called “Dirty Harry”.  Despite being announced two years ago, it is still 18 months away from service. This will offer better terminal effectiveness by having a bullet that yaws (tumbles) more reliably and earlier in soft tissue. It too will be lead free, but it won’t fragment.

The legality of the US M855A1 is a moot point. The USA naturally insists that it is Hague / Geneva compliant. But since they are not signatories, they are free to adopt an independent and more liberal view of what is legally and morally acceptable.

It is fair to say that NATO 5.56 mm ammunition can be considered effective within its range limitations. The UK and most of NATO says that the maximum range is 300 metres. The USA insists that it is 400-500 metres. In fact, a 5.56 mm bullet will reach 800 metres, but can easily be blown off target due to its susceptibility to wind drift. This is the real Achilles heel of the 5.56 mm’s light bullet.  As Afghanistan has proved, often troops will need to engage targets beyond 600 metres and this is what has necessitated a return to 7.62 mm.

The UK, USA and other NATO allies have all established new range requirements for dismounted close combat. Small unit dominance is a key requirement for counter-insurgency operations. Thus, there is a need to dominate the battlespace at ranges of up to 1,200 metres. Obviously, this will be done with more than just small arms. We need individual soldiers to be able shoot to 300 m, as before, but the requirement for sections to shoot collectively as a team (which existed previously when we had the 7.62 mm L1A1 SLR) has returned. Designated marksmen need to be able to hit targets at 600 m. Machine gunners need to do so at 800 m, (US machine gunners to 1,100 m).

So the increased need for 7.62 mm is clear.

The USA is working on an improved 7.62 mm round, the M80A1 EPR, which will incorporate the same construction and materials as the M855A1 EPR.

When the Americans talk about future capabilities two themes dominate: ‘overmatch’ and ‘lightening the burden’. It is the same story for the UK, although we prefer to describe overmatch as ‘enhanced lethality’. (The term overmatch is a bit like warfighter.) The bottom line is, as combat feedback makes clear, any unit that faces an enemy equipped with full-calibre weapons (7.62 mm x54R, .303, 7.92 mm etc.) will be out-ranged and out-gunned if they only have 5.56 mm weapons.

Weapons

A pleasant surprise is the increasing reliability of SA80. It appears that after the initial upgrade programme, Heckler & Koch has continued to supply spare parts. In doing so, it has reportedly redesigned various additional weapon components to offer increased dependability, durability and longevity. In short, the L85A2 is working very well in Afghanistan, even if it is heavy and has questionable ergonomics.

SA80 A1
SA80 A1
SA80 A2 British Army Service Rifle
SA80 A2 British Army Service Rifle

The UK is on course to replace this weapon in 2020-2025. A search for a new SOF assault rifle was initiated this year by the MoD. It isn’t yet known what the contenders are, but expect all of the usual suspects to submit all the usual weapons: FN SCAR, Colt M4A1, HK416, Thales F-90 (AUG Steyr), LMT AR-15 and Beretta ARX160.

The weapon that’s chosen may also become the Army’s next assault rifle.

The US Army’s search for an improved carbine also continues. Colt, Remington, H&K and FN have submitted improved versions of existing products for testing. Given that there is no firm intention to buy the winning weapon and that Colt already has a contract to provide improved M4s, the competition is perceived by many to be meaningless. There is congressional pressure to scrap the IC competition and to select a brand new weapon.

I recently had an opportunity to meet the team responsible for the US Army’s Lightweight Small Arms Technology (LSAT) program being run by the Joint Services Small Arms Program (JSSAP). Having seen the technology at close hand, I have completely changed my mind about it. It is a very clever system.

PEO Fires Inaugural Light Machine Gun Shot
PEO Fires Inaugural Light Machine Gun Shot

The mechanism uses a forward eject system instead of rearward extraction. Spent cases are expelled through the front of the weapon and land in a neat pile. Since there is no need for an extractor to grip the base of the cartridge, the case can be lighter and simpler in construction. This saves both weight and money in production. It also simplifies weapon design. The LSAT machine gun has a swinging chamber that pivots from side to side. The incoming round ejects the spent cartridge. See this video for more details:

The ammunition comes in two varieties. Both are extremely short, light and compact versus legacy ammunition. The caseless ammunition has yet to fully overcome breech sealing and other issues, but the case-telescoped ammunition has proven itself to be able to deliver all of the hoped for benefits. It is looking as though development of the caseless ammunition will cease, because the incremental reduction in cartridge weight is hardly worth the effort.

The case-telescoped round is contained within a simple rimless plastic tube. The projectile is wrapped by propellant, a primer is inserted at the base and an end cap protects the round by sealing it at the front end.  The cartridge is simple, easy and inexpensive to produce.

AAI LSAT Ammunition
AAI LSAT Ammunition

The cost saving versus brass is likely to be considerable. There can be no doubt that this is the cartridge technology of the future. Given the maturity of the existing design, the risk of failure is negligible. As has been mentioned elsewhere, adopting LSAT also provides an ideal opportunity to select an optimised calibre – and that may well be the best possible reason to introduce it.

Unfortunately, as things stand, the LSAT project has reached a standstill. It has completed all initial development and testing objectives, but needs further funding to take it forward to the next level. To do that, the US Army needs to issue a requirement for it so that on-going Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) and operational testing can proceed. It isn’t dead, but it is disappointing that the project is in a state of hiatus.

What could invalidate the LSAT concept is polymer-cased versions of conventional brass-cased ammunition. This solution also saves a considerable amount of weight, but is simple and easy to implement in legacy weapons. However, the weight saving is only 25% versus 35-40% with LSAT.

H&K has developed a new 7.62 mm machine gun for the Bundeswehr, the HK121, to replace its aging MG3s (a design that can trace its roots back to the WW2 MG43). This weapon superficially resembles the 7.62 mm FN Minimi, (which the UK has bought in limited quantities, but not yet issued). The new HK121 has a twin return spring arrangement (not unlike that of SA80) that contributes to an extremely reliable mechanism and short action length. In theory, the weapon could easily be as light as the 7.62 mm Minimi at 8.2 kg, but the Bundeswehr has specified a very heavy barrel for sustained automatic fire. The lightweight version weighs 9.1 kg versus 10.8 kg for the standard version.

The MAG58 weighs 11-13 kg, depending on the version. According to reports, the HK121 (which will be called the MG5 in Bundeswehr service) is rated for 100,000 rounds. It is likely to be bought by a variety of other MG3 customers once development is complete. Incidentally, H&K is also manufacturing FN MAG58s (as GPMGs) for the British Army.

The other important new machine gun is General Dynamics’ new .338 MMG. Using the same calibre as the UK’s sniper rifle, the Accuracy International AW L115A3. This ammunition essentially makes it a lightweight man-portable .50 calibre BMG (see below). The GD .338 MMG uses a hydraulic buffer to reduce felt recoil. This makes it easy to control.

The gun is extraordinarily light for such a large calibre machine gun. Weighing around 11 kg, it is about the same as an HK121 and massively lighter than the 36 kg of the .50 BMG. The range is about 1,700 m in the light role, which compares favourably to the .50 Cal. BMG.

Interestingly, this gun uses the shorter .338 Norma cartridge instead of the .338 Lapua Magnum to conserve barrel life.

It is worth pointing out that, without any competition, .338 has rapidly established itself as the new standard NATO sniping calibre.

In 2007, when the UK replaced its older 7.62 mm sniper rifles with the Accuracy International AW L115A3 it simply determined that the .338 Lapua magnum was the best round for the job.

We ignored the US’s .300 Winchester Magnum and it looks as though we made the right choice.

The longest recorded range for a sniper kill was set in 2009 by a UK sniper, Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison of the Household Cavalry. He shot two Taliban machine gunners consecutively near Musa Qala in Helmand Province in Afghanistan at a range of 2,475 m using his L115A3 rifle.

L115A3 Sniper Rifle
L115A3 Sniper Rifle

Given an alarming number of green-on-blue incidents, the British Army plans to give pistols to all soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Handgun shooting is expected to become a much more important part of small arms training than it has hitherto been. An initial purchase of SIG P226s is expected to be supplemented by a larger buy of Glock 17 (Gen. 4) 9 mm handguns. (Soldiers: never forget that the weapon in your hand was supplied by the cheapest bidder.)

Glock 17 Gen 4
Glock 17 Gen 4

The UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and the USA are all on a similar critical path to replace their military small arms. Canada has shown interest in LSAT and is working with Colt Canada to develop a carbine version of the weapon.

Australia is set to purchase an updated version of its AUG Steyr. This is the F-90 developed by Thales. Since Thales is a French company, the same weapon must be in pole position to replace the French FAMAS, another bullpup design.

France is in an interesting position. Unlike the rest of NATO, it never adopted the SS109 / M855 5.56 mm cartridge. Instead, it used the older M193 round in a steel-cased cartridge. The French Army’s FAMAS has a very fast blowback action, so the cartridge needed to be made of a sturdier material than brass to avoid having the base ripped off during extraction. It has become increasingly difficult to source this old steel-cased M193 ammunition since France stopped domestic production. This has accentuated the need to replace the old and somewhat inferior FAMAS series.

Norway recently bought the 5.56 mm HK416 and 5.56 mm FN Minimi to replace the Norwegian Army’s existing fleet of weapons. It fires new lead free ammunition developed by Nammo. Meanwhile, Italy is starting to issue its new Beratta ARX160 5.56 mm assault rifle to its Army. China has updated its 5.8 mm ammunition as well as the bullpup rifle that fires it, the QBZ-95-1.

Both Poland and the Czech Republic are developing new 5.56 mm assault rifles for their armies. The Polish MSBS is available as both a conventional assault rifle and a bullpup.  The Czech Cz805 Bren resembles the FN SCAR. It is too early to say how good these weapons are, but they look well-designed, high-quality weapons that provide European members of NATO with a less expensive new weapon option.

Finally, the .50 calibre BMG is performing sterling service in Afghanistan. When available, it can quickly lay down coving fire out to 2,000 metres. Often used at shorter range. When Jackals equipped with these weapons open up, the Taliban soon melt away. Virtually unchanged since WW2, the .50 Cal BMG has received a few minor updates including a fixed headspace (which now no longer needs to checked every time the barrel is changed), a quick-change barrel and new flash hider. It is a heavy system – 36 kg, so is usually mounted to vehicles.

Not bad for a weapon that was designed in the early 1930s.

The US Army is using anti-materiel rifles in .50 calibre. The HE warhead makes such weapons ideal for disabling vehicles at long-range. They are also equally effective at neutralising Taliban insurgents, should they get in the way of a vehicle target.

Grenade Launchers

Detachable 40 mm UGL grenade launchers tend to be used detached more often than they are used attached to 5.56 mm weapons.  (Not the UK – our UGLs are not detachable.) This is because UGLs are perceived to add too much weight to small arms. More important, we’re seeing the emergence of 5-6 round standalone magazine-fed grenade launchers with sophisticated sighting / targeting systems.

The XM25 has been fielded with limited success in Afghanistan. According to anecdotal reports, its 25 mm HEAB (High Explosive Air Burst) ammunition is very good at supressing the enemy, but less good at actually killing people. The burst pattern of the 25 mm grenade may be to blame, although it may simply be that users need better training to use it effectively. More definitive feedback is required and that may lead to improved sighting systems. What is beyond doubt is that the XM25 is an extremely innovative weapon. When a burst of 6 x 25 mm airburst grenades is fired at 700 metres, anyone in the line of fire tends to take cover pronto.

XM25, Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) System
XM25, Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) System

If the lethality of the 25 mm grenade is in doubt, 40 mm airburst grenades work impressively well. Rheinmetall is developing a new 40 mm magazine-fed launcher, the Hydra, which is available with 4, 6, 8 and 10-round magazines.  It is noticeably bigger and heavier than an XM25 and uses medium velocity 40 mm grenades. Fired from shoulder-controlled weapons, these high power 40 mm grenades require buffering systems to mitigate the recoil.

Rheinmetall Hydra
Rheinmetall Hydra

Rheinmetall has also developed a single-shot medium velocity detachable UGL system, the Cerberus. This can be retrofitted to existing assault rifles and offers a 700 m range versus 400 m for low velocity 40 mm grenades.

Vehicle-mounted 40 mm grenade machine-guns have proved very popular in Afghanistan. Providing a rapid response mobile artillery platform, they can be attached to vehicles like the Jackal or Foxhound to provide an immediate means of dislodging a dug-in enemy or repelling an attack.

In summary, there have been many complaints about the current range of small arms in use with the British Army and other NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan. The truth is we’ve never had better equipment than we have now.

The fact that we plan to replace it with something even better can only be a good thing.

102 Comments
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Phil
September 18, 2012 3:45 pm

Awesome article. That Hydra grenade launcher looks like someone’s dad knocked it up in the shed.

Interesting about the pistols to all HERRICK bound chaps and chappettes. But why are they going for GLOCK?

And an old one, I just don’t get the gripe about the erganomics on the SA80. Never had a problem and don’t know anyone who has done. And I’m left handed. I really think its just a case of what you are used to, I find conventional rifles hard going simply because I’m more used to the balance and layout of a bullpup.

Rum Cove
Rum Cove
September 18, 2012 4:13 pm

Interesting article, it should be noted the the .338 machine gun uses the Norma Mag round – different from the .338 Lapua Mag used by the sniper rifle.

x
x
September 18, 2012 4:32 pm

“But why are they going for GLOCK?”

Um. The most reliable hand gun in the world. Could that be it? Possibly?

“I just don’t get the gripe about the erganomics on the SA80” and you are left handed? What about the ejection of spent cases? Or Are you just hard? ;) The SA80 has a nice trigger despite its layout. Ergonomically though it is just an AR; but the ergonomics work on the conventional AR. SA80 doesn’t compare to the older FAMAS, which has its faults. And lags behind the Steyr Aug by a good way. My main gripe is build quality and materials. I have been handling firearms for as long as I can remember. The SA80 is more Baikal than Holland and Holland. It works but it isn’t great. If you (not you Phil specifically, a collective you) think different you haven’t handled enough firearms.

Just to be clear. I have handled, shot, field stripped, and carried the SA80. May only have been playing soldiers at cadets. I have stood with the armourer while he serviced the neighbouring TA unit’s SA80s. Seen the faults and the wear and tear. The design is OK-ish, execution in terms of material nowhere near.

x
x
September 18, 2012 4:47 pm

Monty said “(Soldiers: never forget that the weapon in your hand was supplied by the cheapest bidder.)” re Glock

The Glock is one of those rare examples of class leading performance, reliability, and value all come together at a price that is mid-market. They have what 65% of the law enforcement in the US? The remainder of the market is taken up mostly with Glock clones like those from S&W. What would you suggest as a cheaper alternative? Because that would really be cheapest bidder territory? Glocks are boring as they are great. Boring because they just work. And that is all you want in a combat sidearm.

Phil
September 18, 2012 4:49 pm

“Um. The most reliable hand gun in the world. Could that be it? Possibly?”

Then why did we buy SIGs?

I never have argued SA80 was anything like perfect. But I have never struggled with the erganomics. The whole safety catch trigger finger thing is a bit Andy McNab, the change lever is fine considering Brit doctrine, as are the bolt holding open and release catches and the magazine release is fine. It balances well.

I think a lot of stick about the SA80 ergonomics comes from folk who have never or rarely handle a bullpup – it is what you are used to I think. Nobody ever seems to moan about the ergonomics of the M4 (cocking handle) or the AK47 (cocking handle and monstrous safety / selector).

The SA80 thing was a quality control problem I think. With half decent components it fires reliably and accurately in the A2 version. The one thing that is shite about it is when the TMH pins get loose but that’s something that can be fixed in about 30 seconds if the Tom bothers to report it.

As for being left handed, never stopped me shooting marsksman with it ;-)

wf
wf
September 18, 2012 5:15 pm

Hardly an expert, but I have fired a SIG and Glock, and much prefer the former. The Glock’s ergonomics are not wonderful, and it seems to have more muzzle blast (using identical 9mm ball).

x
x
September 18, 2012 5:22 pm

@ Phil

Why do does the MoD buy anything? The US army has just bought another 100,000 M9 or as I know it the Beretta 92. Why didn’t we buy them instead of Sig? Who knows? Why didn’t the MoD buy H&K or FN? Who knows? I do the latter two are darned expensive. The price point and track record point to the Glock being a good buy. Ergonomically it is a class leader. It is easy to use by a variety of shooters from clerk to infantryman. Sig is a weapon for the professional shooter, who will have already a good skill levels, who will probably use it anger. Not some cook who suddenly finds his base under attack and doesn’t have a rifle. (Yes I know catering in some bases is done by civilian contractors. I am just using a cook as an example.)

As for the SA80 well I have touched one, took one part, put it back together again, fired one. The AK is designed to be used wearing gloves in Russian winters hence the big lever controls which always remind me of either something late 19th European (Swiss) or something off a matchlock (“Have a care giving fire!”) As for the M4 cocking-handle. Well yes it is a bit odd but it works. I prefer gas piston ARs that allow a forward charging as well as rear charging handle.

Phil
September 18, 2012 5:28 pm

I know sod all about Glocks, only ever seen one on the usual Sturmplodden about London. I am just wondering why we’re introducing a third pistol to general issue – the Browning HP is still out there, there’s the SIG and now the Glock. It’s notn a dig or an argument – I genuinely wander.

I am sure it will do fine and no more squaddies will perforate themselves or their muckers with it than do now with the SIG.

x
x
September 18, 2012 5:50 pm

@ Phil

If it were a “rifle” it would be an issue, but not so much with pistols. The Hi-Powers out there will be long in the tooth. The Sigs were bought as a stop gap because of the Hi-Powers falling apart. That Sigs were purchased says to me that whoever made the decision knew that pistols are used infrequently by the skilled and that a small number of well engineered more expensive firearms would be appropriate. USN Seals use SIg It should be remembered that officers carried pistols as personal defence against their own and as persuader more than for use against the enemy. This Glock buy is a security measure. If the Army was like the IDF everybody would take their SA80 everywhere with them. Pistol shooting skills degrade much more quickly than rifle shooting skills. It will be interesting to see how long this experiment lasts beyond Afghanistan.

Think Defence
Admin
September 18, 2012 5:57 pm
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Observer
Observer
September 18, 2012 6:19 pm

Didn’t the old FAL use 7.62 NATO as it’s ammo? And there were a lot of complaints about the weight and controllability of the weapon, so how would a new 7.62 weapon solve all the problems that were brought up previously?

And as for LSAT, good luck to them, similar to the M2 replacement problem, stocks of 5.56mm are huge while CTA 5.56 is still as rare as hen’s teeth, along with the problem of adding another ammo type to the squad which can’t even be stripped in an emergency and fed into a normal mag for use in the M4.

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 18, 2012 7:04 pm

My Open Uni project was could I design an incrementaly improved GPMG?
The answer I came up with was a ST Ultimax scaled up to 7.62 sized & firing a new 7.7×52 round.
The ultimax has a soft recoil system making it comfortable to shoot.
The new round was for multiple reasons.
7.62×51 = 3500Joules while 7.62x54R = 3600-3700 J.
I thought it wise that the new round outshoot the 7.62x54R, but be controllable for the average shot.
In civilian hunting rifles, 7mm Remington Magnum = 4057-4367 J, & .338 Federal =4341-4374 J are widely believed to be the most powerful rounds the average shot can shoot well.
For comparison, the .338 Lapua Magnum is 6525 J & beyond most shooters & ranges.

According to Guns & Ammo, the M855A1 cost $ 32 million to develop, its bismuth alloy projectile can destabilize at high ambient temperature & miss the proverbial barn. Chamber pressure increased from 55,000 to 63,000 psi. The three part bullet costs twice as much as a normal bullet.
I took inspiration from the stillborn FN BRG 15.5mm heavy machinegun. It got round the lead free problem by adopting artillery practise. A bore diameter cheap steel bullet with a plastic driving band to engage the rifling. Higher velocity without excessive pressure.
It means adopting a new calibre, so take the 7.62×51 & give it a lead free steel bullet with a plastic driving band. The .338 Federal shows it can be safely taken up to 4300 J. Make it slightly larger 7.7×52 so no one tries to fire the new powerful round through an old 7.62.
This would replace 7.62 weapons.
The same idea could be used to replace 5.56 weapons. Take the Czech 7.62×45 Vz 52 round = 2455 J & neck it down to a 6.5mm steel bullet with plastic driving band. The latest version of the Ultimax soft recoil action is scaled down to assault rifle size ideal for this proposed new cartridge.
Pistols.
My leanings are for .40 cals.
The Smith & Wesson 4006 was the most reliable in the California Highway Patrol tests of the early 1990s. Needs a lot of practise to master it though(took me thousands of rounds to get good).
The Glock 22 in .40 cal is more instinctive & needs less practise.
However, I wonder if a full size handgun is the answer.
Given all the other kit nowadays, a full size handgun left behind is no use when needed. Perhaps a pocket Glock 26 in 9mm is a better choice. I shot one in the US 8 years ago & was pleasantly surprised how a small PPK sized gun(ok a bit thicker) could shoot 9mm Para so comfortably & accurately.
Or if you want a SIG, the 239 is a compact 9mm. Not had a chance to shoot it though.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 18, 2012 7:08 pm

Excellent post Monty! Very informative; learnt about some new weapons and updates on somevold ones.

A few thoughts – 1) if. 338 delivers near 50 cal performance in a machinegun that weighs the same as a 7.62mm one, is also the main Sniper rifle calibre and I believe you can get semi-automatic DMR’s in the same calibre (realise the difference between Noma and Luapa but bare with me) is. 338 the new 7.62mm? Is the 7.62mm Nato the new 5.56mm?

2) wouldn’t a PDW be a better option than another pistol? A “machine pistol” with folding/retractable stock and forward grip would ebhance a pistol (or slightly bigger) sized weapon but still allow it to be used one handed if need be and holstered most of the time. Something like this?

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-pYtx2-g7IYE/Tnx5NrY7vCI/AAAAAAAABfw/RlAC42k1D_Q/s1600/Vbr-B.jpg

Or this?

http://www.gotavapen.se/gota/cbj/cbj_ms.htm

The option of using sub-calibre ammo or 9mm seems a good idea.

Another alternative might be to enhance the Glock by turning it in to a “carbine” for easier, more accurate shooting:

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=u1fdt6uVpe4&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Du1fdt6uVpe4&gl=GB

The clip shows a Glock 18 but should workvwith a 17 – don’t know if its robust enough for military use butvits an idea…

paul g
September 18, 2012 7:47 pm

excellent post monty, (mainly as an RMQ in the REME i spent loads of time on the range, coz i liked it)You’re right about the thinking and acting now, if we are going for this new fandango 2020 army with new policies we need to know what we will be going to war/training with.

my personnal favourite anti-material .50 rifle is the gepard lynx, which someone kindly put up on here, it maybe bullpup but me like!!!

Think when the last ISO (yay i got a container reference in) comes back from the sandpit and the armourers finally work out what’s shagged i think we might up a gear when looking for that replacement.

looking forward to a part 2 with some more gun porn, i mean educational presentations!!

Opinion3
Opinion3
September 18, 2012 8:10 pm

Great article.

x
x
September 18, 2012 8:10 pm

@ John H

Not worth the move to .40S&W NATO runs on 9×19. Yes it is better a cartridge I suppose it could be argued. But supply, cost, etc. etc. and all the other stuff kick in I suppose.

Glock 17/19 equals lots of rounds down range. Glock produces compact and sub-compact for the American CCW market. There is no for soldiers to hide their weapons. In a panic non-shooters need a gun they can get hold of to shoot. How you can a 22 is more instinctive I am not sure. All Glocks are pretty much of a muchness. If you want pointablility you could argue the 34 is a better bet. I think we should be glad somebody or somebodies have made a good or sensible choice for once.

As for 7.62×51 replacements, I hear you. I never understand why those reload for their rifles who shoot .308win go out and buy another .308 rifle when they obviously have the skill, knowledge, and equipment to reload for 7mm08.

@ Swimming Trunks

There are lots of cheap pistol calibre carbines on the US market. Trouble is the better ones are much the same size as SA80. A weapon system brought in partly to replace our last SMG which is old fashioned talk for PDW.

Dave
Dave
September 18, 2012 8:22 pm

Maybe a deal with a single source supplier

MG4/MG5 as the Minimi’s come up for replacement.
HK416/HK417 as your infrantry weapon
G28 as your long range shooter
MP7 for helicopter crews
P2000/USP handguns

http://www.hk-usa.com/-images/shared/HK_Catalog_2009.pdf

IXION
September 18, 2012 8:28 pm

DAVE

Since frankly to the untrained eye most of the weapons available seem much of a muchness, with marginal difference/superiorities, in different fields. so I like the idea.

Indeed I wondered of we could do the same thing with support vehicles, say to Merc

G waggon
Unimog
Zetros
Actros
various vans etc

Ok soem of the vehicles might not be the absolute best in each role, but boy I recon you should be able to negotiate a real deal with merc

Hell there are even more than view armored vehicles based on Unimog etc….

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 18, 2012 9:35 pm

X
If only armed with a pistol against a suicide bomber , I would prefer a .40 to a 9mm, but as I wrote, it is better to have a small 9mm you carry with you when you need it, rather than a full size 9mm/.40 left behind in the armoury.

x
x
September 18, 2012 9:43 pm

@ Monty re SEAL team

I was being silly. I forgot my :) so :)

re Glock competitors

I think case could be made for H&K, FN, or Beretta. Steel or polymer. Strike or hammer. Heck back in the day I thought CZ-75 was the bees knees.

But at the end of the day Glocks just keep on going. They are simple, durable, and as I said above the nexus of price and value simply cannot be beaten. Perhaps S&W M&P. I can see arguments for 40S&W but seeing as shot placement beats all other considerations and the military are restricted to FMJ then the advantage of the larger is minimal. We mustn’t forget really for most soldiers the handgun really is the last ditch weapon. Those who shoot a pistol well naturally are few and far between. We are talking room distance at most. I can’t see really on a bulk buy how buying a gun costing twice much as the market leader (which we are buying) will help.

If only Glock built a rifle…….

FWIW Glocks bore me to tears. Though Glock model number I remember is 34…..

x
x
September 18, 2012 10:30 pm

@ John H

Aren’t these pistols being issued to be carried full time around camp? If not I see little reason for the purchase. As I pointed out Israeli soldiers carry their service rifle everywhere. If the handguns have to be retrieved they might as well get a rifle. Police officers in the US where there side arms for an entire shift; plus they carry cuffs, baton, pepper spray, spare mags etc. If a British soldier baulks at carrying a fullsize handgun, lets not forget another Glock MSP is its low weight, around camp then I don’t know what. Without being sexist they are seen as good carry for women. And that leads us back to that other on going discussion about whether women should be in combat.

If I had to shoot at a suicide bomber I would rather have a rifle. 9mm or 40S&W or 10mm are all marginal. I should hope everybody in the Army, not just the infantry, can consistently hit a 10inch circle from fifty yards with an SA80 off hand. I doubt it. And that is easier to do by some margin than hit that same 10inch target at 20yards with a pistol while stressed as Terry presses the trigger on his trip to meet his 70-odd virgins. Let’s face it will be a moving target too. Isn’t that what keeps on getting preached now, there are no front lines now?

I can’t see many of Glocks making it in the field. More weight will not be welcomed by soldiers carrying a serviceable SA80.

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 18, 2012 10:37 pm

X
It is human nature. If you have been out on a long patrol in high temperature, then when back at base, you strip off all the kit you don’t need & go for a wash/food,etc. A small gun (Glock 26/Walther PPS, etc) might go with you, but a large Glock 17/22/34, SIG 226 or PDW is probably going to be left behind.

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 18, 2012 10:40 pm

After a long hot patrol, a large handgun/PDW will probably not be taken when going for food/wash at base. A small handgun might.

x
x
September 18, 2012 10:59 pm

@ John H

I would say that is a question for young Philip. But I would say those PBs look small. I should imagine that the rifle won’t be too far away. And there will be somebody on stag. (That is the odd word the Army use for being on watch.) Unless somebody broached the compound wall the pistol would be useless in a contact anyway. So..

Tomorrow we need to clarify why these Glocks are being bought? Are they being bought for trainers post-combat operations or what?

S O
S O
September 18, 2012 11:06 pm

“It is human nature.”

An army has some things against this. They’re called “enforcement of discipline”, “selection and training of leaders” and “supervision”.

x
x
September 18, 2012 11:15 pm

Just to clarify, when I say field I mean patrol bases too not just out on patrol.

Observer
Observer
September 18, 2012 11:58 pm

H

You might want to scale down a CIS 50 rather than scale up a Ulti 100. The round you’re planning to lob out has a fair bit more power than a 5.56, a single recoil spring might not be enough to dampen the recoil forces. The CIS 50 uses the same recoil spring system but on dual left/right buffers to handle the increased forces.

As to why a 7.62 version wasn’t produced, same problem as the American M2. Too many FN MAGs in stock and they still work ok, so no push for a new design.

russell1200
russell1200
September 19, 2012 12:28 am

The 6.5 Grendel seems to be slowly creeping toward getting acceptance. Designed to be used on the same platform (if that’s the right word) as the M-16/M-4 presumably it it the cheapest alternative to giving the 5.56 a little more punch.

But as someone above noted, who knows why they decide what they decide?

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
September 19, 2012 2:36 am

Cracker Monty. One question; Any news on that .50 BMG lightweight replacement thing the yankie doodles were working on? I heard somewhere it might halve the weight of the BMG?

Observer
Observer
September 19, 2012 8:05 am

B

It’s the General Dynamics LWMMG that was mentioned after the LSAT. Small section so won’t be surprised that it got overlooked.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
September 19, 2012 8:21 am

@ Observer,

Oh no I saw that, I meant a lightweight .50 cal. Specifically this; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM806

Which it turns out has been cancelled, so there’s the answer to my question :(

Dave
Dave
September 19, 2012 8:56 am

the same argument could be done with MAN now that they have the Rheinmentall link. Take the SX/HX all the way up to the tank transporter replacing Oskhosh models and use MAN commercial vehicles for all the non-military trucks as there will be parts compatibility.

The reason I wanted the SMV400 rather than the Foxhound was because it shared the same HMT framework as the Jackal and Coyote. But we’ve got the Jackal, the Panther, the Husky, the Foxhound … all from different manufacturers.

It is ridiculous that a small armed forces has so many different and often incompatible suppliers.

Surely across a range of armaments there is an increased chance of compatible parts, which would allow for more effective cannibalisation in the field. For example, whilst there will be differences the HK416/HK417/G28 are all based on the same architecture so surely there are swapable parts? In all walks of life you get a better deal when you order in the thousands than in the hundreds.

Ultimately taking it a step further, armed police, and constabularies such as the Civil Nuclear Constabulary which currently have G36/Glocks should get whatever the armed forces get but a civilian variant adding to the overall scale of a purchase.

IXION
September 19, 2012 10:01 am

Dave

A bit off topic, but this sort of thing is actually at the core of my thinking on defence generaly.

I am not that fussed about a particular bit of kit’s superiority in some area over another. Most of the differences are marginal, and in combat often other human factors take over.

e.g. (Now I want to make it clear at this point. I bow to the likes of Phil who have been there and done it so if he says I am talking balls I will accept it…)

The sa80 is suppossidly the most accurate assault rifle out there.

However every on the spot documentary and You tube firefight video I have watched, from Vietnam to helmand, rarely if ever sees a soldier under fire taking careful aim to shoot an individual target at 300 mtrs..Tthere is generaly a lot of shouting, a lot of noise, and a lot of firing in the general direction of the bad guys shooting at the soliders concerned… So I am not convinced that every .1 of sub MOA is used by the average combat soldier. Weight, Reliability maintainability, and yes price might be a better set of things to worry about.

Likewise since it seems to be that you put 2-3 rounds into every target to makes sure, the calibre debate stutters to a halt 3 rounds of 5.56 will kill most people pretty quickly… at the ranges soldiers can usualy see a target.

Likewise with vehicles so one has a better power to weight ratio than another, or a slightly better turning circle, or is slightly easier to work on. I doubt any single truck would encompass all these virtues and be that supperior. so it’s a choice.

OK HK are expensive for guns lets go with colt AR, or Steyr or FN or whatever. But over the whole range some bits would be better than other but none of them are going to be THAT bad, as to really make that much difference.

You don’t like Merc then yes, VW MAN -hell they go all the way up to Marine engines..

Want left field try TATRA whose range of offroad trucks actually were up until the 90’s (and maybe still are) Painfully superior to everything else on the market for capabillity and durability. (They won the Paris- dakar so many times with essentially stock trucks, v other manufactures heavily modified attempts, that the others got together and tried to have them excluded from the competition).

And when you can buy 10 propperly built Ak47 variants for the price of an SA80 it better be f*ck sight better weapon in a real firefight rather than just looking more Gucci and being a bit more accurate on a nice day on the range…

Observer
Observer
September 19, 2012 10:05 am

@Dave

Well, there are pros and cons for varied suppliers. The most obvious would be the lack of reliance on a single source. Since a lot of suppliers are civilian companies, there is a danger of them closing, especially in times of economic crisis, which would play merry hell on your supply chain. It would also be COTS or a close enough analog, saves you the research cost on the items.

Cons would be a really messy supply line if you overdid it, as well as scale of production/feast famine cycle. Some companies simply can’t handle large scale production, and if their reliance is on a single contract, you’ll have to hire staff to meet the contract, then fire them after it was finished to prevent deadweight. Feast/famine in other words.

2 ways I can think of to avoid this:

The release of copyright to the Armed Forces. State that in case of foreclosure, you have the right to seek an external supplier for the fabrication of parts you need, along with the design and manufacturing process.

Or have Armed Forces linked production. Government owned companies can sideline on maintainence for civilian contracts to defray costs, but they’re primarily there to support the Army/Navy. Overheads will be painful, but there are benefits that are worth looking at. After all, the old saying goes “If you want to do it right, do it yourself”. Just have to make sure the DIY doesn’t make you lose your shirt that’s all.

The XM806 was never really a viable weapon, the original OICW/OACW was supposed to fire the new 25mm elipsoid grenade which went nowhere, hence the really crappy rate of fire. I saw it more as a GD last grasp for a sale by rechambering it from 25mm to 0.5 cal than anything else.

The new LWMMG was more of a true replacement offering to the Ma Deuce than the OICW/OACW, which was probably more of a GMG advancement than a HMG replacement. At least it was designed to replace it from the get go rather than trying to replace the Mk19 then switching to trying to replace the 0.5 cal. Schizophrenic design process.

Of course, good design is one thing. Sales is another. The M2 still has years to go, so it’s going to be a hard sale for GD.

Phil
September 19, 2012 11:50 am

I agree with IXION. The primary purpose of the average riflemans contribution to a firefight is suppression. Some level of accuracy is needed but you don’t need to be a sniper. The purpose of an optic is to help with target acquisition and increase the range that effective suppressive fires can be used at. So I’d go for a good scope as one of the biggest problems is simply finding the fucking enemy.

As for blatting away. In my experience, as long as the arse is not kicked out of it, something going back the other way is vital to start to establish psychological and fire dominance. In the time it takes to get a proper fire control order you shouldn’t be quiet and passive. But yeah some blokes do get excitable which is an experience thing. And also it depends where you are. In a base with a million rounds in the bunker it can be useful to smash the rounds down.

That said there’s the school of thought that fire should be laid down only when the enemy is located. I think that’s bollocks myself and maximum violence is needed even if you’re not sure quite where they are yet. But some blokes do kick the arse out of it. I always fired through sights except once when he was 100metres from me firing a PKM through a window and there was no way I was sticking my head up without unnerving him and giving him good news back so I lifted my rifle over my head and gave him half a mag before taking a deep breath and popping up.

It’s an NCOs job to grip blokes giving it big licks though.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 19, 2012 4:30 pm

Always wondered why the US went for 25mm (was supposed to be 20mm originaly)airbust rounds when 40mm greandes were pretty much Western standard and had more room for fuses and electronics. you can have a full range of launchers from single underbarral to multi-shot (rotary or magazine) to GMG. There’s also now a choice between LV, MV, AND HV rounds and add on kits to turn existing rounds/weapons in to air burst capable systems.

Mike W
September 19, 2012 5:18 pm

Monty

Superb post, Monty

You say: “Detachable 40 mm UGL grenade launchers tend to be used detached more often than they are used attached to 5.56 mm weapons. (Not the UK – our UGLs are not detachable.) This is because UGLs are perceived to add too much weight to small arms.”

I just wonder whether you had heard anything about what the British Army’s current thinking is on detachable, stand alone grenade launchers is and whether there is anything possibly in the pipeline.
TD wrote a fine post, a couple of years ago, I think it was. He was writing on the subject of close combat and infantry weapons. He mentioned, and my memory is very hazy on this, weapons such as MBDA’s “Sniper” and “Enforcer” (or “Thumper(?)”). It was in a section, I believe, on what he thought was the need for a (guided?) weapon that could put a warhead the size of a grenade directly onto a target in excess of 1,000 m away. He thought that the British Army saw the possible need for such weapon.

Are these programmes (or similar) still in existence, do you know?

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 19, 2012 5:21 pm

“The 25mm XM25 will also be facing tough competition from a more varied range of developments affecting the 40mm LV systems. These have long been available with a range of less-lethal ammunition for use in crowd control situations, generally paralleling the characteristics of the 37mm riot guns used by police forces, firing impact projectiles which may be single or multiple rubber or plastic batons, or rubber-ball shot loads. Chemical projectiles containing CS gas or similar are also available, but their use is restricted by international law to police forces. The 40mm LV launchers also have a wide variety of pyrotechnic signalling, smoke-producing and parachute-borne illuminating flare munitions made for them.

More recently, air-burst LV ammunition has been developed, with IMI of Israel working on a MultiPurpose 40mm grenade designed to be fired from a UGL modified to have an induction fuze-setter, and intended for use with the Orion sighting system which can be attached to any rifle with standard accessory rails. Arcus is also working on an airburst system. An even less expensive approach to achieving air-burst capability is offered by the two Bulgarian firms, Arcus and Arsenal, who make “jump” or “bouncing” grenades. These revive an old idea (also used by the US M397 and the Russian 40mm VOG-25P caseless) in having a small nose charge which is ignited on impact to kick the grenade back into the air where it explodes a fraction of a second later, providing a much wider fragment distribution. Arcus and Arsenal also offer “anti-diver” grenades fitted with a delayed-action impact fuze which detonates the grenade underwater, at a depth of 5 to 12m, and have a claimed lethal radius of over 10m. Video reconnaissance rounds are available from Martin Electronics of the USA (the HUNTIR) and from STK (SPARCS): these contain cameras which send real-time images back to the firer’s viewer while dangling under a parachute.”

http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/grenades.htm

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 19, 2012 5:26 pm
Mike W
September 19, 2012 5:44 pm

Swimming Trunks

Thanks very much for the link. A lot of very useful information in there.
I had forgotten that Enforcer could actually be used against armoured vehicles.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 19, 2012 6:01 pm

talking about which, this is an interesting series of short articles about the change from infantry ATGW’s to precision strike (obviously biased towards the Spike family, but then again a very good product by all accounts…):

http://defense-update.com/features/2010/december/infantry_missiles.html

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 19, 2012 6:13 pm

Back to rifles – have to mention 7x43mm and the EM-2 when discussing small arms (I think there’s a law)

http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/The%20Next%20Generation.htm

http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/future%20small%20arms.htm

Mike W
September 19, 2012 6:41 pm

Swimming Trunks

Again thanks for that information.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 19, 2012 7:41 pm

Doing some resesrch on the Hydra and came across this interesting article – check out the hand grenades and Fly-k mortar further down:

http://www.esdpa.org/2011/10/rheinmetall-infantry-symposium-2011/

Think Defence
Admin
September 19, 2012 7:49 pm
Reply to  Monty
John Hartley
John Hartley
September 19, 2012 8:19 pm

Observer
The ST .50 cal & 5.56 Ultimax both use the Sullivan soft recoil patent. Thats why I thought a mid size improved &.62 could be made.

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 19, 2012 8:29 pm

I heard Sig had lots of 226 in 9mm, hardly used but carried a lot, traded in by US police/homeland security for .40/,357 Sig. A cheap way to bolster pistol numbers.
Got me thinking, are they sitting on a pile of 9mm Sig 225 that have been traded in by police forces? The 225 is that little bit smaller & lighter than a 226. Might be more likely to be carried.
Perhaps I am wrong, but I think I heard UK “funnies” carry Sig 228/229 & Glock 19. Mid size, but still potent.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
September 19, 2012 9:11 pm

@ Observer,

“The XM806 was never really a viable weapon, the original OICW/OACW was supposed to fire the new 25mm elipsoid grenade which went nowhere, hence the really crappy rate of fire”

Wasn’t that, this; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM312

?

Not sure how much of the 312 was pulled through into the 806.

Mike W
September 19, 2012 9:12 pm

Monty

Sorry, have only just seen your reply to my question. Fascinating!

One very naive question. You say that UGL grenade launchers tend to be used detached more often than they are used attached to 5.56 mm weapons because UGLs are perceived to add too much weight to small arms. Where does that leave the grenadier in a Platoon/Section/Fire team? He would have to carry his rifle as well, wouldnt he, therefore the weight he carries would be the same. Or have I got this entirely wrong? Is it something to do with the performance of the rifle itself being affected?

Observer
Observer
September 20, 2012 1:24 am

“Lobbing 6 rounds of 40 mm HE in the general direction of TERRY can quickly convince him to break off an engagement that otherwise might continue for hours.”

Which is fine if you got the ammo. M-203 users tend to carry only ~5 rounds (one 40mm ammo pack) or maximum 10 (2 packs, but this is pushing ergonomics) as the 40mm rounds are pretty fat and have to be protected from hard knocks (might not blow, but the contact fuses might get damaged, causing a dud. If you want spray and pray suppressive, use 5.56, you got a lot more of it.

On a more pragmatic note, I disagree that a seperate UGL is going to be the way forward, bad enough that you have to handle a M-203 which is fairly clunky and have quadrant sights that are vulnerable to being damaged, you now want to have 2 seperate weapons systems to keep track of? We’ve been taught, “the weapon doesn’t leave your side”, but in a hurry, instead of grab and go, you would have to grab, sling, look for your 2nd weapon, grab and go. As for the HEABs and all, nice in concept, good for vehicles, but not so for an infantryman. A vehicle does not care about half a kg of extra weight unbalancing the weapon. An infantryman does, a front unbalanced weapon is a pain for a human to use.

What I might forsee is the increased usage of intermediate range vehicle mounted support weapons like motars and GMGs to improve the squad’s firepower. The human side of a fireteam is pretty much saturated weight wise, the weight and firepower needs to be supplied from a different platform, which, of course also means greater mechanization of forces. I can see 2-3 Light Strike or Land Rovers travelling one bound behind the infantry advance carrying support weapons and resupply, and providing short term fast transport if needed. Most old infantry I know use trucks to get to their destination, then debus near the objective, this is simply arming their trucks and giving them a support role. A true blue IFV/APC would be nice, but would really depend on cost, the degree of protection needed and if your maintainence can handle the increased workload, APCs being more maintainence intensive than trucks/rovers/jeeps.

“The grenadier would carry a personal weapon in addition to his grenade launcher, something like a carbine with a shorter barrel length. He might even carry a PDW instead – I’d love to see an HK MP7 adapted to fit the XM25 platform. ”

*cough* XM-312. Deader than Bin Laddin.

Observer
Observer
September 20, 2012 1:36 am

Sorry, that was supposed to be XM-29, the XM-312 was the support weapon. A whole family of 20mm grenade users that went to 25mm and then went nowhere. The -25 may be in limited use, but we’ll see if it goes further.

x
x
September 20, 2012 6:36 am

Not sure if it is a re-post.

x
x
September 20, 2012 6:47 am

http://youtu.be/_wdhN5_RpX4

Try again…….

Mike W
September 20, 2012 3:42 pm

Monty

Thanks very much for your last reply. Has clarified a few things.

What about Observer’s comment, though? – “you now want to have 2 seperate weapons systems to keep track of? We’ve been taught, “the weapon doesn’t leave your side”, but in a hurry, instead of grab and go, you would have to grab, sling, look for your 2nd weapon, grab and go.” He does have a very valid point there, doesn’t he? I should add that I am no expert on the Infantry.

Phil
September 20, 2012 4:03 pm

“with the option to carry it as he sees fit.”

I had to chuckle here.

Detached 40mm UGLs I think will go the way of the 2007/8 man bag craze in Afghan – ie it was a shit idea done to look different and ally.

Some Para’s I know were walking around the oo-loo with a slung UGL but others were told quite clearly, its an UNDER BARRELLED grenade launcher and will be used as such or you-will-be-charged.

I just can’t see the utility of a detached launcher.

jim72
jim72
September 20, 2012 4:42 pm


5kg xm25 + ??kg of rounds?
seriously though, i thought the xm25 (or more accurately the ammunition for it) was a great piece of engineering.
perhaps the key here might be waiting a few years for the whole system to become smaller so it could be an UGL in itself

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 20, 2012 7:49 pm
Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 20, 2012 8:09 pm
jed
jed
September 20, 2012 8:37 pm

Monty

Tony Williams is indeed a genius, however perhaps there is no single intermediate round to rule them all…….. !

If you want to “dominate” the “the battle space” 800m or further out, one is not going to do it with small arms, MG’s perhaps but HE projectors would be better surely ?

Anyway, good article, thanks :-)

Observer
Observer
September 21, 2012 12:37 am

@ST

XM-29. Spent a lot of time going nowhere fast but spent a hell lot of money doing it. STK was trying to capitalize on a market craze then, including the fairly recent PDW craze, but internally, it was still SAR-21s and M-16s even for support staff. What can I say? People will buy weird stuff.

4 rounds of 40mm isn’t going to be enough if you toss them out as supressive, which was one of your suggestions. SOP is to shoot them into cover, THEN blast them out with HE, not toss HE to make them take cover… then have nothing left, forcing you to do fire and movement to flank/assault the position, which sometimes doesn’t work if there are other positions L/R of him (no flank to “turn”).

“would you rather carry the 12-15 kg single shot missile that’s presently carried in addition to your personal weapon or a 5 kg multi-round XM25”

Not a valid alternative. Even carrying the XM-25, you would still need to carry the 66mm LAW/SMAW/MATADOR. Simple reason being that they have different jobs.

Not to mention the fact that the grenadier does not carry the LAW, he’s got enough problems carrying the GL with ammo already. The roles are LAW, SAW, M-203 (grenadier) and Marksman for a fireteam, and I’ve alays pittied the LAW gunners, same reason I mentioned above, one huge, extra heavy weapon system to lug around. If the grenadier follows the 2 weapon style, everyone’s going to be aiming for the SAW. Bad enough that SAW gunners get all the fun, them getting the best load too really isn’t fair. :)

The rocket launcher (“missiles” are more used for guided projectiles) is used for anti-vehicle/tank/structure jobs or to mousehole a building to create a “non-standard entryway” (don’t you just love bureaucratise). The XM-25 can’t be used in the anti-vehicle role unless you’re talking about canvas topped and can’t be used against structures unless it has an opening of some sort facing you to lob a grenade through.

Brian Black
Brian Black
September 21, 2012 8:54 am

I was looking at the Battlehawk on defensetech.org yesterday; a Switchbalde-like UAV, essentially a loitering 40mm grenade.
Looks fun, also lighter and probably a whole lot less expensive than Javelin, and more suited to many of Javelin’s Afghan targets.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 21, 2012 10:17 am

Alright – we haven’t had a crazy idea for awhile…

What about taking the Glock 18 carbine kit:

http://i1208.photobucket.com/albums/cc373/project28x/P1010007.jpg

And then putting a metal storm 40mm tube on top:

http://www.metalstorm.com/content/view/64/109/

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 21, 2012 1:06 pm

25-40 mm grenades are great if the enemy is in a free fire zone, but what if they have taken cover near civilians?
Then accurate 6.5-7.7 rifle/GPMG fire is probably a better choice.

Observer
Observer
September 21, 2012 1:49 pm

@ST

Good luck on the weapon :)

Especially since Metal Storm folded. No surprise really, hard to find uses for electrically fired rounds that simple percussion cap rounds can’t do already.

To be really honest, other than the pistols deal, which you already said is done and over with, none of the other stuff really jumps out at me and says “this is it!”. Most of the other sections, I’d estimate as very low chance of happening, even more so when none of it really gives a quantum jump in field capablilty.

One of the things I really hope is for development of cheap rifle mountable TI scopes. The ability to highlight people even through foilage as well as being able to see through smoke is invaluable for an advance or retreat, and to be able to blind the enemy while still giving accurate fire is a very big edge for a rifleman.

Phil
September 21, 2012 2:45 pm

I wasn’t that impressed with TI. TI works awesomely when you have a wide field of vision, you can pick things out, but on a scope with a narrow field of vision and in complex terrain it didn’t strike me as being quite so wonderful. In poor weather I was even less impressed. I just think the human brain struggles to make sense of what it sees with narrow field TI @ ground level.

The rifle, as long as it is sound, is less important than the optics which are in turn used more for target acquisition than laying rounds on target in the real world. There’s also the paradox that infantry in a contact won’t be seen employing or even trying to employ anything like target shooting skills but, to remove marksmanship training or remove the need for an accurate rifle then I feel that that would affect the morale component of fighting power and make the unit far less keen and see infantryman loose their edge if they had a weapon that didn’t make them feel like a bad ass.

Think Defence
Admin
September 21, 2012 3:14 pm
Reply to  Phil

Thats the paradox there Phil, does all the evidence suggest that it is support weapons and blobs of HE that account for the majority of enemy casualties yet the amount of time and effort expended on individual marksmanship and small arms effectiveness is significant in comparison, not sure

Interesting debate though

I remember reading something a while ago about a proposal to arm the infantry with a a small calibre personal defence weapon but have more HE lobbers and better optics

Phil
September 21, 2012 3:27 pm

The evidence I have read always seems to state that small arms in general account for relatively few casualties and that of those casualties most are caused by support weapons. But then I imagine that it really depends on the context but saying that the Taliban we killed on tour were killed by mortars and artillery believe it or not even in a COIN environment with ROE. Snipers and machine gunners got quite a few more.

However, I believe that the psychological effect of considering yourself to be an effective weapon system with a good scope, an accurate weapon and a concentration on marksmanship is very much not to be under-rated.

In the attack one must be aggressive, and being given a weapon that is quite so blatant about your relative fire-power probably won’t make for an effective soldier. Imagine doing a section attack but never firing your weapon – essentially aggressively running at the enemy – it just doesn’t compute.

x
x
September 21, 2012 3:56 pm

Phil said “the need for an accurate rifle”

Mass produced firearms have been more accurate than the shooter really since the end of the 19th. What do you mean by accurate? .5MOA, 1MOA, or 2MOA? Just a point. :)

Perhaps we should worry about replacing SA80 with anything more sophisticated than a Ruger Mini-14 and £500 Eotech…………..

Phil
September 21, 2012 4:03 pm

Whatever accuracy happily lets the infantryman feel like a precision killing machine.

As you say, it would take a remarkable bit of un-engineering to make such an inaccurate rifle but one can’t take such things for granted when talking about the British Army.

Observer
Observer
September 21, 2012 4:17 pm

Interesting on the TI, most of my experience was on wide angle systems, never occured to me that the narrow field of a scope would affect it that badly. Pity. It was exactly the target aquisition advantage that you brought up that I was hoping for. Too bad, back to the drawing board.

As for small arms and their training, the effects of small arms fire vs kill rates from support weapons etc is a bit intangible, for all we know, the small arms fire was what pinned the enemy down for the SP weapons to pound him in the first place! Or holds off the enemy at bay sufficiently for support to dial in. It may not have made the killshot, but it does affect the overall situation. Hell, it’s small arms that are encouraging the Taliban to engage ISAF forces at range instead of close and personal.

@x

“Perhaps we should worry about replacing SA80 with anything more sophisticated than a Ruger Mini-14 and £500 Eotech.”

Then your enemy will be engaging you at 100m with a much higher chance of injuring you.

Phil
September 21, 2012 4:26 pm

Well this is just my experience of the VIPR2 sight. I found it really hard even at its widest field of view to work out what I was actually looking at because texture and natural colour were absent. And there’s enough still warm things out there to confuse you further. Having a wider field of view lets you take in that that is a wall, that is a ditch, that is a hot rock, that is blatantly a human moving through the trees and so forth. It’s not a problem of resolution as much as visual perception. Especially as you lose depth too.

Yes the evidence base for what kills what is confused, not least thanks to one SLA Marshall. But either way, having what you perceive to be an effective weapon makes you feel more effective on the battlefield and in my view more likely to fight. I come to this conclusion because the alternative just does not compute in my mind and I can’t see it doing so in someone else’s mind. Having a pop gun for self-defence is very different to handing a pop gun to an aggressive and offensively minded infantry unit.

Phil
September 21, 2012 4:31 pm

“Perhaps we should worry about replacing SA80 with anything more sophisticated than a Ruger Mini-14 and £500 Eotech…………”

I think this shows how powerful psychology is when it comes to close combat.

Both weapons are isomorphically similar yet one looks a lot more like an assault rifle than the other. Practically, is there much of a difference? Probably not to a an unfeeling robot, if they are both chambered for the same round and have the same sight. Yet humans are not robots and so there is a difference, somewhere, on some level the Ruger is perceived differently than the SA80 and even the M14 to which is bares a big resemblance. I think we should never forget that combat is done by humans and we ignore the idiosyncrasies of the human mind at the peril of victory.

x
x
September 21, 2012 4:40 pm

@ Obs

.223 performance isn’t that much different than the 5.56mm Actually if there were allowed to use them the frangible .223 bullets for deer would have the edge on FMJ. But the Mini-14 is nowhere near as accurate as many even off the shelf ARs; it is at best a 2MOA performer. Certainly a Mini-14 with an Eotech is a better combination than a Chinese AK with open sights.

@ Phil

How many clerks and drivers shoot well? How many of non-infantry can hit a 12 disc at 100m consistently off hand standing?

x
x
September 21, 2012 4:50 pm

@ Phil

I wasn’t talking about buying the Mini-14 per se. More something with that level of engineering. And I only picked it for being .223, I could have said AKM either 47 or 74. I was talking about the accuracy, or the perceived need for accuracy. I would warrant a 3MOA gun would suit the infantry just as well as .5MOA. But as said it would be hard to dial out the accuracy given modern production techniques.

FWIW The Bermuda Regiment is issued with the Mini-14…..

As for the Eotech well some would question a £500 sight on a £500 (-ish ballpark figure) rifle is a waste. But if the cheap gun can out shoot all but the expert then the only other area that can be tuned is the interface between rifle and shooter, the sighting system. Consquently a good sight on a “cheap” gun makes sense.

Phil
September 21, 2012 4:56 pm

@x

Hand standing? I’d wager none ;-)

The pass rates for the APWT (now called something else) are remarkably high across the Army. So I’d say that overwhelmingly most soldiers shoot well enough to take down a bloke at 300metres from the prone or fire trench position even with iron sights.

My point was the Ruger mini 14 would probably be fine if it was arming robots. I am trying to say that there is something more subtle at work when it comes to the psychology of combat. Just because it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, doesn’t mean its thought of as a duck.

Phil
September 21, 2012 5:00 pm

Stupid edit:

I would say that seeing as a sight is just as useful as a target acquisition device having an expensive and effective sight makes perfect sense whatever the relative cost of the rifle.

x
x
September 21, 2012 6:23 pm

Well I have advocated here before the Army giving soldiers (all soldiers) a monthly ammunition allowance to encourage even more shooting even though as you standards are already high. And as you know I am a believer in quality firearms for the UK soldier. After all the rifleman is the Army’s fundamental platform and a believe every soldier should be first a rifleman. (Very USMC of me……)

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
September 21, 2012 7:13 pm

So in other words, when picking a small arm, prioritise the reliability over the accuracy.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 21, 2012 7:31 pm

What about something like the CBJ – MS as standard issue? PDW for non- infantry soldiers but close range assault weapon for infantry – effective range of 150-200m without bi-pod, 400m with. High velocity makes aiming easier and if poking holes and surpressive fire is what you want – can carry twice the volume/weight (I believe) of ammo compared with 5.56mm. Might be possible to combine with a 40mm ABM weapon like the STK SSW mentioned above…

“The Saab Bofors CBJ MS Personal-Defence Weapon (PDW) was first shown in August 2000. It is an unusual weapon in several respects, not least because it is meant to fulfil the roles of PDW, assault weapon and light support weapon(LSW). It is also capable of being field-converted to fire one of two types of ammunition. For the purely military role, the CBJ MS fires a new 6.5 × 25 mm CBJ cartridge; but by simply changing the barrel, it can fire 9 × 19 mm Parabellumammunition for police, training and other operations. The 6.5 × 25 mm CBJ cartridge has the same overall dimensions as the 9 × 19 mm cartridge and generates the same level of firing impulse. The projectile is a tungsten insert held in a plastic sabot, fired at a high muzzle velocity (815 m/s) with the ability to defeat current and future body armours. It is claimed to be effective against lightly armoured vehicles such as armoured personnel carriers (APCs). Advantages claimed for the 6.5 × 25 mm CBJ cartridge include a high impact velocity, a high hit probability due to the flat trajectory, high energy transfer to the target, and low levels of barrel wear and corrosion. The cartridge case is aluminium. Each 6.5 × 25 mm CBJ cartridge weighs 4.5 g and has an overall length of 29.7 mm. The projectile weight is 2 g. The combat range of the cartridge is stated to be up to 400 m.[1]”

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saab_Bofors_Dynamics_CBJ-MS

http://www.gotavapen.se/gota/cbj/cbj_ms.htm

x
x
September 21, 2012 7:33 pm

Yes.

I would say reliability, ease of use, and then accuracy.

Phil
September 21, 2012 8:07 pm

False choice though since its perfectly possible to have all three in spades now.

x
x
September 21, 2012 8:14 pm

There is always choice. :)

Phil
September 21, 2012 8:42 pm

“Well I have advocated here before the Army giving soldiers (all soldiers) a monthly ammunition allowance to encourage even more shooting even though as you standards are already high.”

Nice idea but practically it wouldn’t really work. But I would support marsksman pay.

x
x
September 21, 2012 8:55 pm

@ Phil

Wouldn’t work? Or you can’t see how it would work? Obviously if you are sitting in a patrol base in the back end of nowhere in contact everyday then no it won’t work. If you are a clerk in Aldershot then once a month off to the range with some lovely free ammunition then it would work. Are you telling me there are some who join the Army and don’t like the idea of shooting?

If we do live in a world without front lines and a smaller army I think it is reasonable that everybody in a green suit shoots and shoots well. Fundamental. This is nearly as bad as warships that can’t sink other ships discussions I have with APATS and Somewhat……. :)

Of course then there is other soldiering fundamental, hole digging…… ;)

Phil
September 21, 2012 9:21 pm

It wouldn’t work because of the practicalities of signing out your weapon and popping down the range on your own time, which would anyway almost certainly be fully booked all the time! Thats why.

Observer
Observer
September 21, 2012 9:25 pm

@x

I’m rather pessimistic about human nature, so if you do issue ammo on a monthly basis to everyone, I’m betting some of that is going to appear on the black market. Won’t be the first time something like that happens, lots of countries without firm control often see their military supplies going .. somewhere else.

And .223 and 5.56 actually are the same calibre, though .223s are more for civilian usage and I suspect has a reduced powder load. Externally, they are more or less the same. Internally? Might depend on manufacturer and type of round purchased.

x
x
September 21, 2012 9:43 pm

@ Phil

I have moved on now from shooting. I am now working on how many cubic metres a soldier should be able to dig. And how much practice he needs to maintain that amount. Are entrenching tools held centrally or are you trusted with them? They have sharp edges and stuff so they could be dangerous… :)

x
x
September 21, 2012 9:49 pm

@ Observer

Stuff go missing? From the British Army? Do they have any stuff spare to go missing in the first place? Most Army stuff is fitted for, but not with stuff. Go missing indeed. :)

Are .223 and 5.56mm the same round? I know the difference it is all to do with case thickness as you say. Feel free to shoot 5.56 in a .223 if you wish; you may get away with it. FWIW 7.62x51mm and .308win aren’t the same either. This time the military load can be fired in rifles chambered for .308win but not the other way round.

Observer
Observer
September 22, 2012 3:52 am

@x

“I am now working on how many cubic metres a soldier should be able to dig. And how much practice he needs to maintain that amount.”

lol the joys of a conscript army is that you sometimes get real gems in the random lotto. My uncle had someone in his platoon who worked as a gravedigger, the old fashioned way. He could dig 4 2-man trenches in an hour! As a sidejob in the army, whenever they had to entrench, some lucky few would palm him a few dollars and he would dig the trench for them. Think the rate was 10 dollars per trench, did pretty well for himself. :) That is, if you can get over your firetrench being dug by a professional gravedigger.

x
x
September 22, 2012 9:13 am

@ Obs

:)

IXION
September 22, 2012 9:15 am

The amountof dirt your basic mid victorian Navvy could shift in a day was sataggering:- 12 cubic metres a day! day in day out.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
September 23, 2012 10:27 pm

Back to weapons and the like for a moment, perusing this:
http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/3624A3FC-1A13-42AE-B5C6-CF8F730807C3/0/desider_52_Sept2012InternetU.pdf (page 34)
and the piece on sights got me looking about and I think they are talking about this:
http://www.accutact.com/anglesight.html
which seems pretty neat, although something that can be improved upon.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
September 24, 2012 6:28 am

Although I feel that the accutact product is a little clunky in implementation it has a large advantage that it doesn’t have to be moved out of the way for normal shooting.

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 24, 2012 6:18 pm

Umm, .223 & 5.56 Some American rifles have the .223 Wylde chamber that is supposed to cope with both.

Dgy Geezer
Dgy Geezer
February 25, 2013 10:46 am

@Observer The medium machine gun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Klr0EXZty6s from General Dynamics is a great advance, in that delivering 300gr bullets from a man portable platform would give infantry an advantage they (in the UK armed forces) lack.
Where it does not quite equate to a huge advantage is in using a heavy brass case. A 300gr bullet in an LSAT type telescoped case would make the gun/ammo system much more portable and potent. This gun and CT ammo, if developed, could be carried at platoon level as well as providing long range power when used in defence.
Readers may wonder at the current 24 inch barrel and expect a longer length to develop more power.