General Dynamics has been the most tight-lipped about its submission for US Army’s NGSW Program but it has now been confirmed that GD-OTS proposed the General Dynamics RM277 variant for the requirement of the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons Program.
The RM277 acronym comes from the inch equivalent of the US Army’s desired 6.8mm (or .277in) round. General Dynamics provided some information at the Association of the US Army’s annual meeting. At the event, the company provided a promotional video showing its prototype in action.
General Dynamics and manufacturing partner Beretta USA seem to be betting that the government will be open to the concept this time around, if they can prove the design offers better performance.
Reduced heat transfer is another positive of the 277 TVCM round which General Dynamics emphasis, stating that the round’s composite case insulated the chamber and bolt face thus reducing wear on weapon components. General Dynamics also cite improved accuracy due to manufacturing processes which ensure ” consistent case and precise powder drop, producing exceptionally consistent pressure and muzzle velocities.” Another selling point of the round that they stress is that in-theatre, on-demand manufacture is ‘a reality’.
In terms of operator health and environmental impacts General Dynamics note that the composite round eliminates the use of heavy metals which have adverse effects on soldiers and to answer environmental concerns they say that the cases are 100% recyclable, with the steel base allowing magnetic retrieval during training exercises.
The Army has requested that each of the three vendors submit 53 rifles, 43 automatics, and 850,000 rounds of ammunition for testing, which is expected to take about two and a half years. The goal is to have a finalist selected and fielding to begin by the end of 2022.
Not all personnel will get the new weapon, but the Army is expected to eventually field upwards of 250,000 systems to front-line units. The total award value for the winner is likely to be significantly higher over time when ongoing ammunition sales are factored in.
General Dynamics appears to be the dark horse in the NGSW race. The bullpup might be a different approach then Textron and Sig SAUER proposal but GD has the superior design, it seems likely it would have to vastly outperform its rivals for the Army to disrupt the status quo.
It’s hard to break down the competition based on prototypes that haven’t yet competed on the field, but Textron’s mature, familiar design is likely to be welcomed by the Army. And Sig Sauer’s handgun win could work against it in this competition, given the Pentagon’s stated goal of funding a healthy and diverse supplier base and fears of becoming too reliant on a small number of suppliers.
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