The Army Has Lastly Fielded Its Subsequent Era Squad Weapons

The Army has formally fielded its brand-new Subsequent Era Squad Weapon rifles to its first unit, bringing an finish to the service’s decades-long effort to interchange its M4 and M16 household of navy firearms.

Army Futures Command introduced Thursday that troopers from 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, a hundred and first Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, accepted supply of the XM7 Subsequent Era Rifle and XM250 Subsequent Era Automated Rifle forward of coaching in April.

Produced by firearm maker Sig Sauer, the XM7 is meant to interchange the M4 carbine in shut fight formations, whereas the XM250 will substitute the M249 Squad Automated Weapon, or SAW. Each new rifles are chambered in 6.8 mm to offer improved vary and lethality towards enemy physique armor.

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The Subsequent Era Squad Weapon sequence additionally consists of the XM157 Hearth Management sensible scope, constructed by Vortex Optics, which integrates superior applied sciences equivalent to a laser vary finder, ballistic calculator and digital show overlay right into a next-generation rifle optic.

The fielding “is a end result of a complete and rigorous means of design, testing and suggestions, all of which had been led by troopers,” Col. Jason Bohannon, supervisor of soldier lethality for the Program Govt Workplace Soldier venture, mentioned in an announcement. “Because of this, the Army is delivering on its promise to ship to troopers the highest-quality, most-capable small-caliber weapons and ammunition.”

The XM7 rifle. (U.S. Army picture)

Based mostly on Sig Sauer’s MCX-Spear rifle, the XM7 contains a 13-inch barrel, each normal and left-side non-reciprocating charging handles, a collapsible buttstock, a free-floating bolstered M-LOK handguard, and AR-style ergonomics. The XM250, based mostly on Sig’s LMG 6.8 mm machine gun, options quick-detach magazines and elevated M1913 rail house. Each weapons include Sig Sauer suppressors designed to cut back the blowback from poisonous fumes.

Troopers ought to know that the XM7 is noticeably heavier than the M4 carbine — 9.8 kilos suppressed in a primary fight load in comparison with the M4’s 7.4-pound fight load, per the Army — and delivers elevated recoil in comparison with the M4 on par with a weapon system chambered in 7.62 mm, in response to Sig Sauer officers.

In response to the Army’s fiscal 2025 funds request, the service has a long-term plan of shopping for 111,428 XM7 rifles, 13,334 XM250 automated rifles, and 124,749 XM157 Hearth Management gadgets stretching into the 2030s.

The XM7 and XM250 “guarantee elevated lethality towards a broad spectrum of targets past present/legacy weapon capabilities; elevated vary, accuracy, and likelihood of hit; lowered engagement time; suppressed flash/sound signature; and improved controllability and mobility,” the Army’s funds says.

The XM250 automatic rifle
The XM250 automated rifle. (U.S. Army picture)

The service has been pushing for a brand new household of infantry rifles because the mid-Eighties when it kicked off the Superior Fight Rifle, or ACR, program to determine a substitute for the M16 household of assault rifles. The canceled ACR program was adopted by the XM29 Goal Particular person Fight Weapon program within the Nineties and the XM8 assault rifle effort of the early 2000s, each of which had been additionally deserted.

The M4/M16 substitute effort took on new urgency in the course of the warfare in Afghanistan, the place American troopers discovered that the M16 household of rifles and their standard-issue 5.56 mm ammunition — designed for the close-quarters fight of Vietnam and well-suited for city warfare in the course of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq — proved ineffective towards Afghan insurgents engaged at longer distances amid the nation’s mountainous terrain, as The Related Press reported in 2010.

That subject led to the 2010 fielding of the upgraded 5.56 mm cartridge, the M855A1 Enhanced Efficiency Spherical, as a brief resolution to bolster U.S. troops’ lethality in Afghanistan. Finally, the Protection Division’s 2017 Small Arms Ammunition ¬≠Configuration Examine decided that an intermediate 6.8 mm cartridge would probably outperform each standard-issue 5.56 mm and seven.62 mm rounds, inducing the Army to ascertain the Subsequent Era Squad Weapon program in 2018 to interchange each the M4 carbine and the M249 in its arsenal.

From there, the Army chosen three gunmakers to furnish the service with prototypes of the NGSW-Rifle (the M4 substitute) and the NGSW-Automated Rifle (the M249 substitute): Basic Dynamics-OTS Inc., AAI Company Textron Methods and Sig Sauer, the final of which had gained the Army’s Modular Handgun System program contract in 2017 to interchange the M9 Beretta throughout each service within the U.S. armed forces.

Sig Sauer ultimately clinched the contract in 2022. Since then, the Army has been conducting ongoing consumer testing on the rifles, placing them by way of their paces in excessive environments. In late March, days earlier than revealing the preliminary fielding to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, the service introduced plans to construct a 6.8 mm ammunition plant in Missouri to assist the proliferation of the weapons throughout the drive.

In response to the Army, troopers have spent greater than 25,000 hours testing the next-gen weapons from preliminary improvement to fielding.

“The method of creating and fielding new tools is rarely with out challenges and setbacks and velocity bumps, so we’re celebrating the truth that we’re delivering on schedule, as promised,” Lt. Col. Mark Vidotto, this system lead for the Soldier Lethality Cross-Useful Workforce at Fort Moore, Georgia, mentioned in an announcement.

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