Today, it has been announced that SIG Sauer have won the contract to provide both the NGSW-Rifle and NGSW-Automatic Rifle. An initial delivery order contract worth $20.4 million has been awarded. SIG’s MCX 6.8 Spear will be designated the XM5 Rifle and the LMG-6.8 belt-fed will be designated the XM250 – designations directly following on from the M4/M4A1 Carbine and M249 SAW which the new weapons will replace. SIG’s selection means that the US Army’s new 6.8mm round will be based on a hybrid metallic case, not the polymer-based design developed by True Velocity.
We already know which fire control optic will be used with the winner of the program. It was announced in January that Vortex had won the Next Generation Squad Weapons – Fire Control procurement program. Vortex’s optic has been designated the XM157 and will be used with both the NGSW-Rifle and NGSW-Automatic Rifle.
Here’s the US Army’s announcement in full:
“WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army announced today the award of a 10-year firm-fixed-price follow-on production contract to Sig Sauer for the manufacture and delivery of two Next Generation Squad Weapon variations (the XM5 Rifle and the XM250 Automatic Rifle) and the 6.8 Common Cartridge Family of Ammunition.
This award was made following a rigorous 27-month prototyping and evaluation effort that included numerous technical tests and Soldier touch points of three competing prototype systems. The value of the initial delivery order on the contract is $20.4 million for weapons and ammunition that will undergo testing. The contract includes accessories, spares and contractor support. It also provides the other Department of Defense services and, potentially, Foreign Military Sales countries the opportunity to purchase the NGSW weapons.
The XM5 Rifle will replace the M4/M4A1 carbine within the close combat force, and the XM250 Automatic Rifle is the planned replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon Both weapons provide significant capability improvements in accuracy, range and overall lethality. They are lightweight, fire more lethal ammunition, mitigate recoil, provide improved barrel performance, and include integrated muzzle sound and flash reduction.
Both weapons fire common 6.8 millimeter ammunition utilizing government provided projectiles and vendor-designed cartridges. The new ammunition includes multiple types of tactical and training rounds that increase accuracy and are more lethal against emerging threats than both the 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition.
The XM5 and XM250 will be paired with the XM157 Fire Control, a ruggedized advanced fire control system that increases accuracy and lethality for the close combat force. The XM157 integrates a number of advanced technologies, including a variable magnification optic (1X8), backup etched reticle, laser rangefinder, ballistic calculator, atmospheric sensor suite, compass, Intra-Soldier Wireless, visible and infrared aiming lasers, and a digital display overlay. It is produced by Sheltered Wings Inc. d/b/a Vortex Optics, Barneveld, Wisconsin.”
ROUNDUP: THE NGSW PROGRAM
The NGSW program has its roots in an earlier program which was launched in February 2018. The Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) program saw technology demonstration awards awarded to AAI Corps/Textron, FN American, General Dynamics OTS, PCP Tactical and SIG Sauer in July 2018 before the program was supplanted by the broader NGSW program in October 2018.
A fresh call for prototypes was issued in January 2019, this time looking for an automatic rifle to replace the M249 and a rifle to replace the M4 these would be chambered in cartridges developed by the manufacturers using an Army designed 6.8mm projectile. Numerous companies submitted to the new call for proposals but in August 2019 it was announced that SIG Sauer, AAI/Textron & General Dynamics-OTS has been awarded development contracts to supply prototypes.
Textron, who had decades of development experience working with polymer cased telecoped ammunition submitted a rifle and belt-fed light machine gun. We got our first look at the prototypes in September 2019 before they were upgraded with some internal and aesthetic improvements later in 2020. In a surprising turn of events, which has yet to be officially confirmed, Textron stepped back from the program in 2021 leaving a two-horse race.
SIG Sauer submitted what could be considered the most traditional designs we got our first look at the SIG SPEAR and MG-6.8 in September 2019 when we interviewed SIG’s CEO, Ron Cohen, about the program. SIG Sauer developed a 6.8x51mm hybrid case round, marketed to civilians as 277 Fury, the ammunition has a brass case body and a steel base. In January 2022, SIG announced that the MCX SPEAR rifle would be available on the civilian market in the near future.
Intriguingly General Dynamic-OTS submitted the RM277 bullpup for both the rifle and automatic rifle requirements. The offering of a bullpup surprised many but the longer barrel afforded by the bullpup configuration enabled the RM277 to reach the Army’s desired muzzle velocities. In April 2021 LoneStar Future Weapons and ammunition manufacturer True Velocity announced they would be taking the lead on the post-development phase of the RM277. True Velocity subsequently acquired LoneStar in November 2021. Like SIG Sauer True Velocity, LoneStar and their partner Beretta have indicated that the RM277 will be commercially available in the future. At the end of March, it was revealed that the US Army are set to procure 29,046 Next Generation Squad Weapons during the 2023 fiscal year.
The SIG Sauer XM5 and XM250 will replace the M4/M4A1 and M249 with the US Army’s close combat units. The program has been closely watched by other US service branches and militaries around the world.
Adapted from coverage from our sister site TFB.