The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 1998

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters

1998

 

The US Army announces its intent to gradually replace the M16A2 with a flattop M4 carbine equipped with the M4 RAS. (Some sources indicate that this variant was initially known as the M4E2.)

Norwegian Special Forces (FSK) adopt the Diemaco C8A1.

HK releases the results of its testing on the L85A1 and L86A1. Included are recommendations on potential fixes. HK is contracted to upgrade 200 weapons and test them again.

British researchers continue the Electronic Individual Weapon (EIW) program. EIW technology is included in the British equivalent to the US Land Warrior system: Future Integrated Soldier Technology (FIST). Samples of the L86A1 LSW are also converted to create the ELSW.

IMI introduces the bullpup Tavor family.

SIG introduces the SG552 “Commando.”

Modification Work Order (MWO) 9-1010-221-30-1 mounts the M203 on the M4/M4A1 and redesignates the launcher as an M203A1.

January:
NSWC-Crane announces its intent to purchase nine 5.56mm Light Machine Guns. The weapons must weigh between 9 and 14 pounds, with a firing rate of 700+ rounds per minute.

ACALA issues a sole-source solicitation to Colt for 75 M4A1 Carbines.

ACALA deallocates $2,000,000 in a contract modification to Colt for the M4 carbine.

Congress is notified of the government’s intent to transfer 380,000 rounds of 5.56mm Tracer to Estonia at no cost as Excess Defense Articles.

NSWC-Crane, on behalf of USSOCOM, issues a sources sought announcement for a commercially available/ non-developmental Mini Night Vision Sight (Mini NVS). The Mini NVS must be capable of use either as held-held, helmet-mounted, or affixed to a M4A1.

FNMI‘s Kevin R. Langevin and Gary A. Sniezak file a patent application for the cosmetic design of a one-piece buttstock for the M16.

Turkey orders 200,000 HK 33.

February:
ACALA awards FNMI a $12,621,672 contract option for the production of 31,700 M16A2 rifles for FMS.

ACALA awards a $39,075 contract modification to Colt for M4 carbines.

Congress is notified of the government’s intent to make a FMS to Kuwait for M16A2 and M4.

HK‘s Rudolf Brandl and Heinz Matt file an US patent application for HK‘s Phase III OICW candidate.

OICW Phase 3 is completed with the demonstration of prototype systems.

CECOM issues a market survey announcement to locate additional sources for a Target Pointer/ Illuminator/ Aiming Light (TPIAL), the AN/PEQ-2A, an Infrared Aiming Light (IAL), the AN/PAQ-4C, mounting brackets, and spares.

March:
ACALA issues a sole-source solicitation to Colt for 15,925 M4 and M4A1 Carbines.

ACALA issues a solicitation for 6,497 to 32,402 M16A4.

Colt receives a new contract for 32,402 M16A4.

ATK‘s OICW system candidate is picked over AAI’s for advancement to the Phase 4 live fire simulation and field tests.

The SOPMOD kit ORD is amended for the second time.

NSWC-Crane issues a solicitation for the finalization of a SOPMOD Manual to include technical and training information, and also an abbreviated pocket reference card.

TACOMARDEC issues a market survey notice to identify potential sources for an off-the-shelf weapon flashlight mount. The mount will permit attachment of flashlights to M4 and M5 Adapter Rails.

ACALA awards a $2,076,300 contract modification to Center Industries.

The PM-Small Arms, in support of the US Army Infantry Center, issues a sources sought announcement for candidates capable of improving the accuracy of the 40mm M433 HEDP cartridge.

Michael Harris and Colt’s James Taylor receive US Patent #5,726,377 titled “Gas Operated Firearm.”

April:
ACALA awards FNMI a $3,233,855.52 contract option for M16A2 production.

ACALA awards a $99,996 contract to Colt related to the M16.

ARDEC awards ATK a $8,423,586 contract for development of the OICW.

NSWC-Crane, on behalf of USSOCOM, issues a sources sought announcement for a 5.56mm belt-fed LMG. The LMG must weigh between 9 and 13 pounds and be between 40 and 44 inches in length. It must possess MIL-STD-1913 rails for the attachment of optics and the use of accessories from the M4 SOPMOD kit. A minimum service life of 50,000 rounds is required, and the barrel must have a service life of 10,000 rounds. Mean rounds between stoppages are to be no more than 1800-2200 rounds. Retractable stocks are optional, but no provision for the use of box magazines is desired.

SPECWARCOM finalizes a Joint Operational Requirements Document (JORD) for frangible ammunition. It is based on existing frangible technology and operational requirements. The JORD is then submitted to other USSOCOM activities.

TACOMARDEC issues a market survey notice for an enhanced fire control device/system for the M203 grenade launcher. The enhanced device/system must provide increased performance over the current leaf and quadrant sights. They desire range resolutions to 10 meters or less. The system must not weigh more than either 12 or 24 ounces, depending upon the incorporation of advanced sensors.

ACALA awards a $131,400 contract to Colt for R0801 (commercial M203) for FMS.

The M4 and M5 RAS are standardized.

William R.H. Alexander and Trevor J. Barraclough file an US patent application for the .224 Boz.

May:
ACALA awards Colt a $8,296,925 contract for the production of 15,925 M4 and M4A1 Carbines. The following day, FNMI delivers a proposal claiming that they are also capable of producing the M4 for the US Army. The Army rejects the proposal for being late based upon the date the solicitation was filed on the Internet. However, the submission would have been on time based upon the date that the printed version was filed. FNMI, in response, files a lawsuit with the US Court of Federal Claims.

ACALA awards a $295,580 contract modification to Colt related to the M4 carbine.

HK‘s Johannes Murello, Rudolf Brandl, and Wilhelm Fischbach file an US patent application for the receiver construction of the OICW‘s grenade launcher.

June:
ACALA awards Colt a $18,148,960 contract for 88,037 conversion kits to upgrade existing M16A1 rifles.

ACALA also awards Colt an order for 5,000 M16A4.

The US Court of Federal Claims denies the Government and Colt’s motion to dismiss FNMI‘s suit. The Government and Colt’s lawyers argued for dismissal on the basis that FNMI‘s submission was late.

Colt’s Laurance Robbins receives US Patent #5,760,328 titled “Four Position Firearm Fire Control Selector.”

NSWC-Crane conducts a performance evaluation to determine if any commercially available cartridges could meet the frangible ammunition JORD requirements. None of the cartridge designs meet all of the operational requirements.

TACOMARDEC announces its intent to award a sole source contract to ATK for the manufacture of (X)M95 Area Fire Non-Lethal Rifle Munitions. Developed in support of the Non-Lethal Program, the munition will be fired from a standard M16/M4 series weapon. The non-fragmenting and non-explosive submunitions will produce non-lethal effects at a range of 50 meters.

ACALA awards a $3,693,677.65 contract option to KAC for MWS components and assorted spares.

TACOMARDEC, in support of PM-Small Arms, issues a solicitation for 50 to 96,364 Backup Iron Sights (BUIS) for use with the M16A4 and M4.

NSWC-Crane announces the Government’s intent to hold a combined Government/Industry conference in October 1998 to discuss the future requirements of the SOPMOD M4 Accessory Kit Program. The procurement/fielding of the Accessory Kit (Phase I) is nearly complete; however, the program is looking to continuously improve the existing kit components as well as providing new NDI/COTS technologies to Special Forces. Currently, the Accessory Kit is comprised of the following components: 4X Day Scope, Reflex Sight, Rail Interface System (MIL-STD-1913), Vertical Forward Handgrip, Quick Attach/Detach M203 Grenade Launcher Mount and Sight, Infrared Laser Pointer/Illuminator, Visible Laser, Visible Bright Light, Backup Iron Sight, Combat Sling, Sloping Cheek Weld Stock, Mini Night Sight and 9 inch M203 Grenade Launcher Barrel. The intent of this conference is to establish communication between Government and industry in order to determine future requirements and capabilities of the SOPMOD Accessory Kit.

Marine Corps Systems Command, on behalf of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL), announces its intent to negotiate a sole source, commercial item contract with Raytheon TI Systems. The contract is for Raytheon’s NightSights W10009 uncooled thermal weapons sight and associated equipment for attachment to the M16A2, M4, and M240.

July:
ACALA awards Colt a $2,514,339 contract for production of 6,497 M16A4. ACALA also awards a $53,454 contract option related to the M16.

The US Court of Federal Claims rules that FNMI did not submit sufficient evidence that it could produce the M4 carbine within the time constraints of the solicitation.

HK produces its 50,000th G36.

Spain announces its intent to adopt the HK G36E. The intent is for an initial purchase of German manufactured rifles followed by domestic production by Empresa Nacional Santa Barbara.

The British ITDU publishes an investigation of the LSW Trails ranging from 1981 to 1996. The author indicates that the recommendations and conclusions from the earlier trials reports did not match the data collected. Moreover, outside factors appear to have influenced decision making.

TACOMARDEC‘s earlier solicitation for Backup Iron Sights (BUIS) is cancelled.

ACALA awards a $749,998 contract modification to Center Industries.

August:
ACALA awards a $238,896 contract modification to FNMI for M16A2 for FMS.

A field test of the prototype “green” tungsten-core M855 is conducted at Stewart River, Alaska. 5,200 rounds are fired by 72 riflemen during range qualifications.

USSOCOM approves the frangible ammunition JORD.

TACOMARDEC issues a requirement for a Weapon Flashlight Mount (WFM) for attachment to M4 and M5 Adapter Rails.

ARDEC issues a market survey notice for an off-the-shelf, non-developmental Rifle Launched Entry Munition (RLEM). The RLEM must be capable of breaching a metal security door or solid wood door 1.75 inches thick from 6 to 40 meters range with up to a +/-70 degrees offset angle.

September:
ARDEC awards ATK $119,839 for development of the OICW.

ACALA awards $1,154,536 and $26,660 contract modifications to Colt for M4 and M4A1 carbines. ACALA also awards a $212,400 contract modification related to the M4 carbine.

Colt receives an order for 3,249 M16A4.

ACALA awards a $1,257,363 contract option to Colt for M16A4.

ACALA awards a $36,636 contract to Colt related to the M16.

USASOC proposes another amendment to the SOPMOD kit ORD.

TACOMARDEC, in support of the USMC and the US Navy, intends to modify its existing contract with Aimpoint by procuring an additional 300 M68 Reflex Collimator Sights.

ACALA awards $1,040,073 and $1,525,934 contract modifications to Center Industries.

TACOMACALA issues a market survey notice to identify potential sources for a M203A1 Mounting Kit. Intended for mounting the M203A1 to the M4, the contract will request approximately 4,615 kits.

Picatinny awards a $1,393,270 contract to ATK for M95 Area Fire Non-Lethal Rifle Munitions.

Todd Griffin, on behalf of R/M Equipment, files a pair of patent application for the interbar attachment system of the M203PI.

October:
The US Court of Federal Claims rules that neither 10 USC 2320, nor the “Competition in Contracting Act” (CICA), 10 USC 2304, prevents the Government from entering into a settlement agreement relinquishing rights in technical data if the data was developed at both public and private expense, and if a reasonable assessment of litigation risks reveals that the rights at issue are legitimately in dispute. To the extent that the M4 was not developed solely at public expense, the Government was free to relinquish rights to the M4’s TDP without retaining the authority competitively to procure the M4 dependent on that data. However, the relinquishment of these rights may represent a violation of the CICA if the settlement adopted a position not realistically within the outcome risks posed either by the threatened breach of contract action or by Colt’s separate claim of ownership of the M4. The court leaves open for further inquiry the factual issues as to whether the rights to the M4 belonged to the Government, and if so, whether the loss of those rights could reasonably be
interpreted as within the litigation risks the Government faced.

The JSSAMP is updated yet again. This is reportedly the last fully staffed JSSAMP.

Colt receives an order for 1,551 M16A4.

ACALA awards a $600,237 contract option to Colt for M16A4.

Turkey increases its order of HK 33 to 500,000.

HK‘s Johannes Murello files an US patent application for the ambidextrous charging handle of the G36.

HK‘s Manfred Guhring receives US Patent #5,821,445 titled “Loading Lever Assembly for Hand-Operated Firearms.”

HK‘s Manfred Guhring and Helmut Weldle receive US Patent #5,824,943 titled “Self-Loading Rifle with Gas-Pressure Loading Arrangement.”

The first issue of the M4 and M5 RAS begins.

The US Army Research Unit for the Behavioral and Social Sciences publishes “Training Effectiveness Analysis (TEA) of the Land Warrior (LW) System: Phase I – the Baseline Platoon.” A platoon from the 82nd Airborne Division had been chosen to serve as the control for future experiments with the devices from the Land Warrior system.

KAC‘s Doug Olson receives US Patent #5,826,363 titled “Rail Adapter Handguard Systems for Firearms.”

Michael Harris and Colt’s James Taylor receive US Patent #5,827,992 titled “Gas Operated Firearm.”

November:
Initial testing begins of the OICW Virtual Simulator. The Simulator is a joint effort between NAWCTSD and the ARL.

LMT‘s Karl R. Lewis files a patent application for an improved M16 bolt.

ACALA awards a $4,019,900 contract option to FNMI for M249.

WARCOM tasks NSWC-Crane to procure and safety certify 5.56mm, 9mm and .45 caliber frangible ammunition.

British armorers receive improved cocking handle slides for retrofit to the L98A1 Cadet Rifle.

The SOPMOD kit ORD is amended for the third time.

ACALA issues a solicitation notice for the procurement of 440,000 magazines. The solicitation is limited to Okay Industries and General Stamping Company.

Late:
The 5th Special Forces Group collaborates with the USAMU regarding development of a SPR.

December:
ACALA awards a $52,100 contract modification to Colt for M4 carbines.

The Bolivian Senate authorizes the Defence Ministry to sign a $11.78 million contract for 10,000 IMI Galil rifles.

The SOPMOD kit ORD is amended for the fourth time. This amendment includes the Accessory Kit Carrying Case.

A platoon from the 82nd Airborne Division receives training with the M68 CCO, the AN/PAQ-4C IAL, the AN/PEQ-2A ITPIAL, and the AN/PAS-13 Thermal Weapon Sight (TWS) in preparation for a Land Warrior operational test. This was the first time soldiers were trained on all four systems simultaneously.

(Next: 5.56mm 1999)

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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