The long-awaited replacement to the standard M16/M4 service weapon and the squad level light machine gun are expected to be on the firing line in summer 2019.
The Next Generation Squad Weapon program has seen rapid changes and a flow of top-tier support that may bring an end to close combat reliance on a weapon that’s been in service for more than half a century.
After much public guessing on what caliber the new weapon might fall into, the Army selected 6.8mm as the caliber for both its M16/M4 and Squad Automatic Weapon replacement with a prototype notice posted in October.
The weapon will go to close combat Army, Marine and special operations forces — primarily the “close combat 100,000,” which is mostly infantry, cavalry scouts, reconnaissance and some combat engineers.
Prior to the selection, officials asked industry to give their best bets on a round that would meet ramped up distance, accuracy and lethality on impact somewhere between 5.56mm and 7.62mm, the current standard rounds.