The Army Times published an article recently about the Army’s “dual strategy [for]…… a more accurate, durable and lethal weapon that will be the mainstay for the next 40 years.”
The article describes a two part strategy: 1. overhaul the current M4 platform and 2. Simultaneously begin looking for a new carbine that can outperform the M4.
M4 Overhaul: An overhaul of the M4 platform is planned to occur in 3 phases outlined below:
- Phase 1: To begin immediately, distribute what is essentially an improved M4A1 carbine (heavier barrel and full auto capability) to all troops. Would include ambidextrous controls and an improved magazine design for better reliability.
- Phase 2: Beginning Fall 2010, host an open competition for a new bolt assembly and/or different materials or coatings to enhance the bolt life. Also calls for a strengthening of the forward rail assembly on top of the receiver, possibly with a free floating rail.
- Phase 3: To begin in about 18 months (which would be March 2012), improve the gas system by allowing less gas and dirt in or replacing it with a a piston! (yes folks, a piston M4!).
The next carbine: The Army’s open, industrywide Individual Carbine Competition was approved Aug. 4 by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. Here are a few highlights of the Army’s carbine request:
- No caliber restriction has been placed on a new design.
- It will be at least a 500-meter weapon.
- This weapon will be modular and able to carry all the existing attachments soldiers use.
- It can have a gas or piston system.
- Interchangeable barrel sizes, such as those seen in the SCAR, are not required but certainly won’t be a negative thing.
A draft request for proposals (RFP) will go out late this year (2010) with the official RFP to go out early in 2011. Manufacturers will then have a few months to respond with their proposed weapons. After that a period of function and durability testing will begin and last for 12-18 months.
So it could be 2013 or later until we see a new carbine, if the project doesn’t get delayed or cancelled…..
For more information, be sure to check out the full article in the Army Times.