Infantry Automatic Rifle to replace M249

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7point62

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This is from the Marine Corps Times. What do you think?




Marines to test, evaluate 4 auto-rifle models

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Feb 1, 2009 9:14:04 EST

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — Like it or not, it’s coming.

The Corps is moving forward with plans to test replacements for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, and will receive initial deliveries this spring, Marine officials said.

The Infantry Automatic Rifle could be fielded as early as October 2010, said Maj. John Smith, the weapon’s project officer at Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va. Testing is expected to begin in April on four finalists competing for the contract, with Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 1st Marine Division involved in the process.

“It’ll be fleet Marines that are testing it,” Smith said. “We’ll be collecting data and getting feedback from Marines. All of [the weapons] could meet our needs, but we need to dig a little deeper and get the input on what the average Marine thinks.”

The push to include Marines in the process hasn’t stopped grumbling across the Corps. Many grunts question the wisdom of reducing the number of SAWs, light machine guns with a 5.56mm, 200-round belt that allows Marines to unleash a tremendous volume of fire when threatened. The IAR will employ the same 5.56mm, 30-round magazine used with the Corps’ main service weapons, the M16A4 rifle and M4 carbine.

“My big concern right now is that loss of fire,” said Staff Sgt. Craig Wilcox, an infantry unit leader who deployed to Afghanistan twice and Iraq once, and is now a combat instructor at the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based School of Infantry-East. “We’re taught from day one that the SAW is the center of the squad itself. When you’re looking at dropping all those rounds, you’re going to lose your ability to maneuver and fire as quickly and efficiently as we have done in the past,” Wilcox said.

It’s a long-running debate in the Corps — even in the community that made the decision, said Patrick Cantwell, a former captain who serves as the Corps’ small arms capability officer.

Should the Corps cut weight to increase mobility? And if so, what should a new weapon offer?

A look at the finalists
The four finalists in the IAR competition, announced in December, stand in stark contrast to the SAW, which is more than 40 inches long and weighs about 16½ pounds empty. The weapon jumps to more than 22 pounds when loaded with the 200-round belt.

The lightest of the replacements under consideration is Heckler & Koch’s IAR, which weighs 7.9 pounds empty, with a 36.9-inch stock that collapses to 33 inches. The heaviest is FN Herstal’s entry, which weighs 11.2 pounds and has a 38.8-inch stock that collapses to 36.3 inches.

The other two finalists in the competition are made by Colt Defense, maker of the M4. Labeled the Colt 6940 and Colt 6940H, they weigh 10.1 pounds and 9.28 pounds, respectively, and vary because they have different heat sinks and upper receivers. Marine officials did not elaborate on the differences, but said the variations merited another look.

“They both performed very well, which is why they made the cut, but we needed to test them more to tell them apart,” Smith said.

Company officials at each of the three manufacturers remaining in the competition were tight-lipped about their products. HK and FNH, which makes the SAW, declined interviews, but provided specifications and photographs of their weapons, while Colt officials declined to be interviewed or release details about their products. The Corps released photographs and a basic description of each Colt weapon.

“Obviously we’re pleased to be included in the competition,” said retired Maj. Gen. James Battaglini, chief operating officer for Colt. “We’d rather let the results speak for themselves.”

The finalists diverge most clearly when it comes to their operating systems. Only FNH’s IAR fires from both the open- and closed-bolt positions, a requirement to keep the heat down when the Corps initially announced the competition. Cantwell said “that restriction went away” as officials surveyed their options.

“In a perfect world, we would like a [weapon firing from the] closed-bolt, because there are advantages to that, but we kind of took what we got and weighed the pros and cons, like the accuracy and the weight and the other elements,” Cantwell said.

Both of Colt’s weapons fire from the closed-bolt position using a direct gas impingement system, Marine officials said. HK’s IAR fires from the closed-bolt position using a gas-operated system.

The IAR finalists vary from the SAW in other ways, as well.

The SAW, first fielded in the 1980s, provides a sustained rate of fire of 85 rounds per minute. The sustained rate of fire available in the FNH and HK models is 12 to 15 rounds per minute, with a maximum effective rate of fire of 36 rounds per minute for 1,200 rounds or 75 rounds per minute for 600 rounds, company officials said.

At a cyclic rate, the SAW can fire more than 750 rounds per minute. FNH’s IAR fires from 560 to 640 rounds per minute at a cyclic rate, while HK’s fires 700 to 900.
 

Marauder06

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I don't know... I'm a big fan of the SAW. Especially the stubby-barrelled, collapsable-stock version.
 

pardus

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This is from the Marine Corps Times. What do you think?

I think it's a stupid idea, replacing a belt feed with a mag feed weapon!? ridiculous IMO

Add it the squad, replace a rifle with it but not an MG. :2c:

Mara, I cannot see the point of a short barreled MG, just doesn't make any sense to me. :2c:
 

Dirty Harry 375

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The Mk46 is light weight, pretty durable, belt fed, and can still tear shit up... The light weight and ability to attach all the fun goodies to it makes it very versatile. Its a well designed weapon and is reliable... The only down side to it is what every machine gun faces is that since its belt fed and has an open port to discard brass and links it can get gunked up easy from a dust out from using air assets.
 

0699

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Bring back the Johnson LMG and be done with all these new-fangled gadgets...
 

Poccington

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I'm not really seeing the logic in replacing an MG with a magazine fed weapon. It's a big chunk of firepower getting taken out of the equation.
 

AWP

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I don't have to be infantry to see how this is a bad idea. Belt fed to mag fed is an improvement?
 

Crusader74

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I don't know... I'm a big fan of the SAW. Especially the stubby-barrelled, collapsable-stock version.


The Para :D

minimi.gif
Minimi Para with bi pod unfolded, stock extended, 200 round ammo box fitted.











I don't normally correct Ossifers :D
 

Marauder06

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I....

Mara, I cannot see the point of a short barreled MG, just doesn't make any sense to me. :2c:


As a short-range area-suppression weapon against personnel, I don't think it can be beat. The short barrel and stock ensure you can maneuver it in tight areas (like room clearing or in a vehicle). Add 200 rounds in one box drum, and the capacity to take M4/M16 mags make it my favorite.
 

pardus

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Thats the key, short range, MGs arent SMGs, they use a rifle round for a reason.
Room clearing isn't for MGers it's for riflemen, the whole short barrel thing even for rifles IMO is unwise, I'd rather take a full length rifle any day.

Just my :2c:

As a short-range area-suppression weapon against personnel, I don't think it can be beat. The short barrel and stock ensure you can maneuver it in tight areas (like room clearing or in a vehicle). Add 200 rounds in one box drum, and the capacity to take M4/M16 mags make it my favorite.
 

shortbrownguy

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You aren't seeing it, the SAW is a light machine gun employed in fire teams, not gun teams... it's a one man weapon, and Marauder is talking 600m being short range, because that's the POINT range...

Yup, and with the short barrel and collapsed buttsock, it makes for a formidable react to near ambush weapon.
Trust me...;);).
 

Diamondback 2/2

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I hate the SAW, I have always thought it was a shitty weapon. However, I would not replace it with a magazine fed automatic weapon.

As for the para M249, the short barrel and stock makes employment easy in all A/O's. Big and bulky vs. small and easy...
 
B

Boondocksaint375

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As a former SAW gunner, I'd also like to add that aside from the previously mentioned benefits of the short barrel, CQB is a hell of a lot easier with the para barrel.


Me and my baby on the left. On the right, the sad sad B team SAW gunner :D
 

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