The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 1982

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters

1982

 

Under Secretary of the US Army James R. Ambrose endorses a potential 10-12 year rifle development program, which leads to a new Future Rifle Program and the eventual Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) program.

At Picatinny, Vince De Siena and MAJ Dave Lutz (USMC) machine off the carrying handle of a M16A1 upper receiver, affix a commercial Weaver scope rail, and then mount a Kahles 1.5x optic. Tasked with the supervision of the M16A1(PIP) program, MAJ Lutz lobbies for the addition of an optic-capable flat-top receiver into the list of improvements incorporated in the M16A1(PIP). (Lutz also believes that this prototype may have been the genesis of the later Canadian flat-top project, due to his sharing an office with the Canadian Army Liaison Officer to JSSAP, MAJ Rick Wilson.)

The DOD expresses initial interest in a M16A1(PIP)-based carbine.

The Army orders 18,850 M231 FPW with an option for an additional 550.

The US provides 1,060 M16A1 to the Dominican Republic as part of a military assistance package.

The US makes a FMS of 20,743 M16A1 to El Salvador. Deliveries stretch through 1984.

The South African Defence Forces (SADF) field the R4 rifle.

Singapore fields the Ultimax 100 LMG.

Gabon acquires 800 FAMAS.

The Indonesian Air Force orders 10,000 FN FNC.

The Omani Royal Guard acquires Steyr AUG.

Somalia purchase 20,000 SAR80. Deliveries continue through 1983.

The East German company Spezialwerkzug und Hydraulic GmbH Wiesa (SW&H) acquires a license to produce an AK-74 variant, the MPiKMS-74.

January:
The US Army awards a pair of $473,000 contracts to Colt related to the M16. One of these is later deallocated in full. The Army also awards a $57,000 contract to Colt for FMS.

The Joint Service Operational Requirement Document is published for the M249.

Daewoo takes over ownership of Pusan Arsenal.

The US Army awards a $129,000 contract modification to Colt related to the M203.

February:
The USMC Analysis Support Branch issues “Analysis of the Modified Operational Test for the M16A1E1 Rifle.”

The US Army awards $25,000 and deallocates $51,000 in contract modifications to Colt related to the 1967 Licensing Agreement.

The FN M249 Squad Automatic Weapon is officially adopted and standardized. Original goals are for the US Army to procure 49,979 and the USMC to purchase 9,974.

The British ITDU investigate the ability of left-handed users to adapt to right-hand only models of the IW and LSW.

The US Army awards a $2,424,000 contract to Adventure Line Mfg. Co. Inc.

March:
The US Army awards a pair of $872,000 contract modifications to Colt related to the M16. One of these is later deallocated in full.

The British ITDU publishes the results of the IW User Trials. The MRBS is a disappointing 182.

Spring:
FMAP-DM begin construction of a pilot lot of fifty 5.56mm rifles.

April:
The USMC‘s Firepower Division releases “Final Report: Test Results, Analysis, and Recommendations of Testing Conducted on the M16A1E1 Service Rifle.” Not surprisingly, the Marines are very pleased since the rifles were effectively made to order.

The US Army awards a $26,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M16. The Army also awards a $1,600,000 delivery order to Colt for FMS.

ARRADCOM‘s Fire Control and Small Caliber Weapon Systems Laboratory (Picatinny) publishes the first volume of a two volume report “Investigations Concerning the Reloading of 5.56-MM Ball Ammunition.”

May:
The DOD awards a contract to FN to provide the data necessary to complete a TDP for the M249. This does not include data regarding manufacturing techniques.

June:
Naval Weapons Support Center-Crane issues a solicitation for 1,350 M16A1 sound suppressors. Knight’s Armament Company (KAC), INTERRAND, and Qual-A-Tec submit models. KAC ultimately wins.

July:
The US Army awards a $12,000 contract to Colt related to the M16. The Army also awards a $70,000 contract modification related to the 1967 Licensing Agreement.

Aberdeen’s HEL issues the report “Some Human Factors Considerations in the Design of a Combat Rifle.” The report presents views on some of the human factors considerations in the design of a modern combat rifle. It draws upon previous HEL testing over the past 25 years. A figure is included showing a hypothetical combat rifle configuration embodying desirable human factors characteristics.

HK‘s Paul Thevis, Helmut Danner, and Erich Weisser file an US patent application for the three-round burst mechanism of HK‘s roller-locked firearms.

August:
The US Army awards a $13,195,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M16. The Army also awards a $1,260,000 contract modification to Colt for FMS.

Aberdeen releases the report “Development Test II of XM249E1 Squad Automatic Weapon.”

The US Army awards a $77,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M203.

September:
The M16A1E1 is officially type-classified under the designation M16A2.

The US Army awards a $15,487,000 delivery order and a $70,000 contract modification to Colt related to the M16. The Army also awards a $1,170,000 contract modification to Colt for FMS.

The US Army awards a $19,380,000 contract to FN related to the M249.

Picatinny publishes the final volume of the report “Investigations Concerning the Reloading of 5.56-MM Ball Ammunition.”

Colt informs the US State Department that the South Korean Ministry of National Defense has stopped paying royalty fees. The Ministry states that payments had ceased because certain M16 patents held by Colt had expired.

Picatinny’s Fire Control and Small Caliber Weapon Systems Lab awards 25-month contracts to HK ($3.8 million) and AAI ($3.3 million) for development of an Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR). HK‘s entry is their 4.73mm caseless G11 rifle, while AAI pursues their own caseless rifle system, which bears more than a spitting image to the XM70. AAI’s 5.56mm cartridges, developed in conjunction with Hercules Powder Company, offers a 70gr “heavy-bullet” load along with a sabot load using the old .17 caliber micro-bullet. (This is not the same system that AAI submits for the late-1980s ACR trials.)

The British ITDU begins User Trials of the XL73E2 LSW.

L. James Sullivan and Robert L. Waterfield, on behalf of CIS, file another US patent application for the drum magazine of the Ultimax 100.

HK‘s Dieter Ketterer, Horst Jakubaschk, and Emil Rommel receive US Patent #4,348,941 titled “Shoulder Arm with Swivel Breech Member.”

The US Army awards a $2,103,000 contract modification to Adventure Line Mfg. Co. Inc.

The US Army awards a $842,000 contract modification to Colt related to the M203.

October:
The US Army awards a $62,000 contract modification to Colt related to the 1967 Licensing Agreement.

The military specification for the M231 FPW, MIL-S-63348A(AR), is amended for the second time.

L. James Sullivan, on behalf of CIS, files an US patent application for the lockwork mechanism of the Ultimax 100.

November:
Aberdeen completes the M16A1E1 technical feasibility test.

FN grants a license for the Minimi TDP to the DOD.

The US Navy withdraws the designation EX 27 Mod 0.

The British Secretary of State for Defence announces the Government’s intent to solicit bids for the privatization of the Royal Ordnance Factories.

Pier C. Beretta receives US Patent #4,359,834 titled “Multipositioned Two-Legged Support for Portable Automatic Weapons.”

December:
The US Army awards a $713,000 contract to Colt related to the M16.

The Mellonics Systems Development Division based at Fort Benning publishes a rebuttal to the USMC‘s adoption of the M16A2. Fault is found with nearly every change made, even the decision to modify the rate of twist for the use of XM855 and XM856 ammunition. Another bit of nit-picking decries the lack compatibility of the 1-in-7″ twist for use with the M261 .22LR conversion unit.

Phase A of British Ordnance Board Trials ends for the IW/LSW. Several bolt carriers have cracked and fractured during testing, with as low as 287 rounds fired. During cold chamber testing, one IW barrel splits lengthwise from the chamber to the gas port. Reliability is also quite disappointing. The IW turns in a MRBS of 175, the open bolt LSW tallies 339 MRBS, and the closed bolt LSW turns in a more respectable 1,356 MRBS. The Ordnance Board plays fast and loose with the figures, counting only the most severe stoppages/failures (those unable to be cleared or fixed by the user) for only the endurance phase of testing. By doing so, they exactly achieve the 2,500 MRBF for the IW required by GSR 3518. However, no amount of refiguring can push the LSW anywhere close to its 8,000 MRBF requirement with the open bolt LSW posting 2,713 MRBF and the closed bolt LSW tallying 4,746 MRBF.

The ITDU ends User Trials of the XL73E2 LSW.

The US Navy awards a $353,000 contract to KAC related to the M16.

The US Army awards a $181,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M203. This is for FMS.

(Next: 5.56mm 1983)

by Daniel E. Watters, Small Arms Historian
Post questions or comments at The 5.56mm Timeline’s Facebook page.

Document History
Publication: 12/10/1998
Last Revised: 05/17/2009

 

Author’s Note
This article was originally published at The Gun Zone — The Gunperson’s Authoritative Internet Information Resource. My friend and mentor Dean Speir has graciously hosted my articles at TGZ for nearly 16 years. These articles would likely have never appeared online without his constant encouragement and assistance. 

With TGZ’s closure in early 2017, Dean encouraged me to find a new home for my scholarship so it wouldn’t be lost in the dustbin of the Internet. Loose Rounds has welcomed me with open arms. In the future, I intend to expand my legacy TGZ articles and add new contributions here at Loose Rounds.

 

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