U.S. defense contractor Textron Systems, part of American conglomerate Textron, has shown two versions of the new squad automatic rifle developed under the Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW) program.
The NGSW program is currently in a competitive prototyping iteration with three vendors for weapons and ammunition (SIG Sauer, General Dynamics, and Textron Systems) and two vendors for fire control (Vortex Optics and L3Harris).
Textron’s infantry rifle and automatic rifle variant, which will use new 6.8mm telescope ammunition, were displayed during the visit of Governor Larry Hogan, Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz and Secretary of Labor Tiffany Robinson at Textron’s Hunt Valley, MD facility last week.
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The NGSW would replace for Infantry and close-combat units its aging M249 and M4A1, both of which fire 5.56 mm rounds.
As noted by the company, the new weapon system low-risk 6.8mm CT system provides significant performance enhancements over current Army systems. . The design features improved accuracy and greater muzzle velocity for increased performance, as well as weight savings of both weapon and ammunition over current Army systems.It also incorporates advanced suppressor technology to reduce the firing signature and improve controllability.
Separately, the company noted that compared to today’s M4, the 6.8 mm rifle increases velocity and performance at range. The 6.8mm automatic rifle also increases performance with significant weight reduction, improved ergonomics/controls over the current M249 weapon.
According to the recent Army’s statements, NGSW is planned for fielding 2021 or 2022. Versions of the weapon are intended to be equipped with sophisticated technologies such as ballistic calculation, intelligent targeting and tracking capabilities, wireless communication and advanced camera-based capabilities.
The Army will test several rifle prototypes produced by various companies and expects to field a new squad weapon in the latter part of 2022.