Marine Corps Needs Lighter .50 Caliber Ammunition to Cut back the Burden of Weight on the Battlefield

The Marine Corps is trying to cut back the load of its .50 caliber ammunition in an effort to extend velocity and survivability for Marines on the battlefield.

On Sept. 26, Marine Corps Programs Command posted a request for info, or RFI, to potential distributors in offering light-weight .50 caliber ammunition. In keeping with the RFI, the Corps is interested by a belt of 100 .50 caliber cartridges weighing 20.3 kilos to 22.3 kilos, which might supply a weight financial savings of 24% to 30%.

The command informed {that a} “factory-packed field” consisting of two cans with 100 rounds every of .50 caliber ammunition at present weighs 77 kilos — a big load for troops to shoulder.

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The Corps expects to ship the lighter .50 caliber ammo to the fleet by the top of 2026, in response to Ashley Calingo, a spokesperson for Marine Corps Programs Command, or SYSCOM.

The need to cut back the .50 caliber ammo’s weight is a part of the Corps’ persevering with effort to lighten its infantry and improve velocity on the battlefield.

“Agility and velocity are crucial to battlefield survivability, and we’re constantly trying to cut back the load of ammunition Marines should carry into the battle,” Calingo informed

“This weight discount will even cut back gas consumption and different transportation prices, and should cut back weapon system upkeep prices,” Calingo added.

In recent times, the Corps has sought to minimize fight hundreds on its grunts by decreasing the load of its physique armor. The Marines have additionally experimented with robots to deal with the load burden shouldered by grunts.

On Sept. 9, aboard the sprawling Marine coaching base at Twentynine Palms, California, troops test-ired an M72 anti-tank rocket with a small robotic canine referred to as the Robotic Goat, in response to a command launch.

The service additionally began fielding its Plate Provider Era III in 2020, which is roughly 25% lighter than earlier protecting vests.

In 2019, then-Marine Corps Capt. Courtney Thompson gained the Stephen A. Tisdale Thesis Award for her analysis on the significance of decreasing weight to spice up fight effectiveness and survivability on the battlefield, in response to a press launch.

Thompson’s award-winning analysis titled,”Paying for Weight in Blood: An Evaluation of Weight and Safety Stage of a Fight Load Throughout Tactical Operations,” discovered that simply 15 kilos might be the distinction between life and loss of life for a Marine on the battlefield.

Her analysis gained the eye of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and SYSCOM.

In one other thesis on the risks of extreme fight hundreds, printed in 2020, she warned that navy leaders shouldn’t simply “restrict themselves to the answer of lighter” protecting gear.

“This drawback requires a holistic strategy, together with decreasing the gear carried for missions; scrutinizing what’s mission-essential; analyzing at present fielded gear, similar to radios, for weight discount; and figuring out weight as a crucial technical parameter” in the case of new Protection Division acquisitions, Thompson stated in her analysis.

She discovered that fight hundreds carried by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan reached 160 kilos, with a median load of 117 kilos.

Now a significant with third Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan, Thompson informed that autonomous programs are an space of “nice curiosity” for decreasing the load shouldered by Marines.

“I imagine commanders by no means intend to overburden their Marines, since nobody desires to hold issues they do not want. However on the finish of the day, if it is wanted for the mission or personnel sustainment, you need to take it; that is why we practice,” Thompson added.

Calingo stated that, following the RFI for the lighter .50 caliber ammo, a technical workforce will overview business responses.

“After assessing the probability that the seller might manufacture the spherical, our workforce will make suggestions on whether or not to additional consider the proposed resolution by way of a follow-on contracting motion,” Calingo defined.

— Shawn Snow is a contract reporter and Marine veteran. He beforehand reported for Army Occasions masking the Marine Corps and abroad operations. He’s on X @ShawnSnow184, and could be reached at

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