The Army next summer will test a 6.8mm caliber rifle as its next generation squad weapon (NGSW), an M4 and M249 replacement, with officials looking to initially purchase 100,000 of the new rifles for soldiers in close quarters combat duties.
Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, told reporters during a Monday press conference that the new 6.8-caliber weapon would carry range and lethality capabilities ahead of any existing military rifle.
“We’re committed to a new rifle and a new squad automatic weapon. Right now the feedback looks like we’re going to go to a 6.8mm caliber round,” Milley told reporters at the Association of the United States Army conference. “This weapon has an accurate range far in excess of any existing known military rifle today. It will fire at speeds that far exceed the velocity of bullets today. And it will penetrate any existing or known body armor that’s out there that we’re aware of.”
Last week, the Army released a prototype opportunity notice (PON) to find three companies capable of developing two 6.8mm rifle variants, NGSW and Next Generations Squad Automatic Rifle.
Total purchases for NGSW and NGSAR could total 250,000 new weapons, according to the PON.
The Army in July awarded five companies contracts to develop NGSAR prototypes: Textron’s [TXT] AAI Corporation, General Dynamics [GD] Ordnance and Tactical Systems, PCP Tactical, Sig Sauer and FN America.
Milley would not specify how many of these developmental weapons would be moving forward.
Officials believe the high price tag for the new weapon will prevent the system from being fielded to all combat troops, with priority going to those involved in close quarter combat operations, according to Milley.
Live-fire tests next summer would take place at Fort Benning in Georgia, according to Milley.