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The U.S. Army Searches For The Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle

U.S. Army M249 (U.S. Army Photo)

The M4 and now the M249 SAW.  It looks like that when the next decade arrives, the U.S. Army would be retiring their main infantry weapons as they are set to ditch the 5.56mm round in favor of the 7.62mm one. If the U.S. Army gets its way, it prefers that its Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) will also be suppressed and magazine-fed. The M249, while it is more known to be belt fed, can also be magazine fed so that it can the magazines used in M16s/M4s so it can keep it on firing even if it ran out of linked ammunition.

The Army Times posted the news when it spotted the Special Notice posted by the U.S. Army at the Federal Business Opportunities website last May 31, 2017:

The Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) is a single incremental program to meet future force warfighting needs. It is the planned replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) in Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) and select support units during the next decade. It will combine the firepower and range of a machine gun with the precision and ergonomics of a carbine, yielding capability improvements in accuracy, range, and lethality. The weapon will be lightweight and fire lightweight ammunition with improved lethality. The NGSAR will help to reduce the heavy load that burdens Soldiers and that has a significant negative impact on their mobility, survivability, and firing accuracy. Soldiers will employ the NGSAR against close and extended range targets in all terrains and conditions. The NGSAR will be compatible with and dependent on legacy optics and night vision devices to meet required capabilities. It will also be compatible with the Small Arms Fire Control system currently in development and possess back-up sights. It is anticipated the NGSAR support concept will be consistent with (comparable to) that of the predecessor M249 SAW involving the Army two level field and sustainment maintenance system. The NGSAR will achieve overmatch by killing stationary, and suppressing moving, threats out to 600 meters (T), and suppressing all threats to a range of 1200 meters (O).

Army Pvt. Michael Rojas fires an M249 light machine gun during in Djibouti, 2 May 2017
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas M. Byers/Source:

While no caliber is mentioned in the, it is reported that the U.S. Army is mulling caliber changes between the 5.56 and the 7.62mm rounds that can be used for the squad automatic rifle and the replacement for the M4 rifle as the U.S. Army needs a new round that can penetrate new body armor that potential enemies’ armies now wear. It has to be noted that the posting is a Special Notice, which means that, “The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this Special Notice or to otherwise pay for the information solicited except as an allowable cost under other contracts as provided in subsection 31.205-18, bid and proposal costs, of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.” That means it is a heads up for military contractors to start looking into making new weapons designs that can meet the details of the Special Notice. Similar to a Request for Information, this is not yet a Request for Proposal (RFP).

The U.S. Marines are using the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR), an HK416-based weapon that has been made to meet the requirements of the Marines as a replacement for the M249. The M249, introduced in 1984, has been in use in major conflicts that the U.S.A. and its allies have been involved in.


Top Photo:  U.S. Army photo by Spc. John Cress Jr.