Army Opens Competition for M-16 Replacement
Army opens competition for replacement of M-16, M-4 (Army Times)
The Army will hold an open competition among arms makers to select a replacement for its M-16 rifles and M-4 carbines. The March 4 pre-solicitation notice, posted on the Internet, means the ArmyÃ¢€™s XM-8 program will have to prove it can outperform the rest of the small-arms industry before soldiers carry it into battle. Army weapons experts have been working on the Heckler & Koch-made XM-8 prototype as an unopposed replacement since late 2003. It was part of a longer-range effort to perfect an over-and-under style weapon, known as the Objective Individual Combat Weapon or XM-29, developed by Alliant Techsystems and Heckler & Koch.
The XM-29 fires special air-bursting projectiles and standard 5.56mm ammunition. But at 18 pounds, itÃ¢€™s still too heavy to meet requirements, so Army planners decided to perfect each of XM-29Ã¢€™s components separately, allowing soldiers to take advantage of new technology sooner. The XM-8 is one of those components. It features a compact model for close quarters, a standard carbine and a designated marksman/squad automatic rifle model with a longer, heavier barrel and bipod legs for stability.
The March 4 Ã¢€œPre-solicitation Notice for the Objective Individual Combat Weapon Increment I family of weapons,Ã¢€ invites small-arms makers to try and meet an Army requirement for a Ã¢€œnon developmental family of weapons that are capable of firing U.S. standard M855 and M856Ã¢€ 5.56mm ammunition.
The OICW Increment I is intended to replace current weapon systems, including the M-4, M-16, M-249 squad automatic weapon and selected M-9 pistols for the active Army, the notice states.
Interesting. One wonders, though, about staying with 5.56mm ammo, roughly equivalent to .22 caliber. While it has the advantage of being the NATO standard, its stopping power is less than ideal, especially given that the modal type of engagement appears to be in an urban setting where one shot, one kill is necessary.
Update: Modern Firearms has more on the technical specs of the XM-8, along with several photos of the weapon in its various configurations. Here’s the basic model:
GlobalSecurity.org has a lot of information as well, including this:
The XM8 Lightweight Assault Rifle will reduce the 21st century soldier’s load and increase his mobility – two very important aims of the Army’s Objective Force Warrior and Land Warrior initiatives. The progress made to reduce weight and improve performance on the XM29 program is key to the decision on accelerating the development of the XM8, which is integrated with the Army’s efforts to transform to a more lethal and rapidly deployed fighting force as part of its Objective Force.
The XM8 weighs 6.2 pounds, vice 7.9 for the M16A2 (both minus ammo).
Army Times purports to have a video of the XM-8 in action but it keeps crashing Firefox for some reason.