The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 2003

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters

2003

 

Several changes are afoot; many in part due to the run up to, and the aftermath of, the Second Gulf War. New SEP inspired by Urban Operations (UO) include an improved 40mm grenade launcher, to be named the XM320. (Not surprisingly, a variant of the HK AG36 is being pushed as a companion for the G36-based XM8. The eventual winner in USSOCOM‘s EGLM trials will be a likely shoo-in for the XM320 contract as well.) C-More’s Lightweight Shotgun System (LSS) is being revived for use in door-breeching. Candidates for the Multipurpose Optic (MPO) requirement appears to be a C-More produced 1-5x variable scope and the Leupold Mk 4 CQ/T 1-3x variable. The MPO concept is to mix the short-range advantages of the M68 CCO with the longer-range capabilities of a Trijicon ACOG, while knocking out the disadvantages of either.

SOPMOD PMO receives an unrequested $3,600,000 from Congress for the purchase of additional AN/PVS-17A MNVS.

All M4A1 procured by the DOD now come from the factory with a special heavy barrel installed.

Daewoo introduces the bullpup DAR-21 rifle.

The British MOD purchases an additional 700 FN Minimi Para (L110A1) prior to the invasion of Iraq. The MOD also purchases 600 L17A2 grenade launchers from HK.

Sweden begins troop trials of the modified Ak5CF. 300 rifles have been modified to the experimental standard. Changes over the basic Ak5 include:

  • Increased reliability: MRBS >2,000
  • Colored black instead of green
  • MIL-STD-1913 rail on the upper receiver
  • New flash hider with better flash suppression
  • Only one gas port position
  • Permanent bayonet lug for the Ak4 (HK G3) bayonet
  • New hand guard with rail at 6 o’clock
  • Adjustable buttstock
  • New ambidextrous selector lever
  • New pistol grip
  • Automatic bolt catch
  • Transparent plastic magazine
  • Removable forward grip
  • New tactical sling
  • Removed existing iron sights and previous bolt catch

The Turkish military cancels its contract with MKE for the HK 33. Depending upon the source, only 50,000 to 80,000 were accepted by the Turkish military.

The Mexican Navy lists the allocation of funds for the development of an indigenously designed rifle. It is projected for adoption in 2004 or 2005.

January:
NSWC-Crane issues a RFI for a SOF Combat Rifle (SCR) to replace the M4A1 carbine. The design is to be modular, allowing for multiple caliber conversions and configuration modifications to match divergent mission needs. “Draft” Key Performance Parameters of the SCR include:

Requirements (Threshold) (Objective)
Corrosion Resistance 4 days 10 days
Mean Rounds between Stoppage 2,000 4,000
Mean Rounds between Failure 15,000 30,000
Accuracy (MOA) 1.5 @ 300 meters 1 @ 400 meters
Effective Range
Point Targets 500 meters 600 meters
Area Targets 600 meters 700 meters
Life Cycle (time before overhaul) 15,000 rounds 90,000 rounds
Modularity
(Caliber) 5.56mm TBD (7.62x39mm/5.45X39/6.8x43mm)
(Mission) Adaptable to SOF mission scenarios: CQB/OTB/General Combat/Long-range Precision fires.

 

TACOM awards FNMI a $449,307.76 contract option for 1,124 M16A2. These are for FMS.

TACOM awards $14,689 and $195,084 delivery orders to FNMI for M16A4.

TACOM awards Colt a $331,975.28 contract option for 364 M4 Carbines.

NSWC-Crane awards a $33,884 delivery order to FNMI for Mk 46 Mod 0.

PEO-Soldier briefs the Army Acquisition Executive ASA(ALT) Claude M. Bolton Jr. on a new approach for incrementally developing the OICW subsystems. The PEO proposes maturing two separate but parallel capabilities: the kinetic energy system (XM8 [Increment I]) and the stand-alone, high explosive, air bursting system (XM25 [Increment II]).

The MCWL publishes “Project Metropolis Tactical Warrior Experiment: Phase Two (Guam, USA): Squad Advanced Marksman (SAM) Experiment After Action Report.” Results indicate that the combat optics can dramatically improve first round hits on targets at unknown ranges, and greatly increases target identification capability for shadowed targets and during low light conditions. The authors recommend that every infantry fire team could benefit from a SAM equipped with optical sights.

The US Navy Office of the Judge Advocate General (OJAG) completes its interim legal review of the Federal 5.56mm frangible cartridge (DODIC AA40). The review limits the use of the cartridge for training use only. However, request for limited operational use of the frangible round will be reviewed by JAG on a case by case basis.

HQ, 5th SFG sends the memo “Mission Needs Statement (MNS), Advanced Rifle Cartridge (ARC).”

A ballistic review of the 6.8x43mm SPC is conducted for the US Army’s Judge Advocate General. This eventually leads to the approval for combat use of Hornady and Sierra OTM projectiles, and opens the way for a Limited User Assessment (LUA).

India announces a $20 million contract with IMI for the bullpup Tavor rifle. The Tavor is intended to replace the troubled INSAS rifle along with a large number of Romanian AKM rifles purchased as a stopgap in 1995.

HK‘s Ernst Wössner files an US patent application for the cocking handle system for the MG4, which allows the bolt to be locked in any position along the length of its travel.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation and then awards Okay Industries a $1,788,000 contract option for 300,000 magazines.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation and then awards FNMI a $1,059,085.48 contract option for 1,594 short barrels for the M249.

TACOM awards a $379,804.32 delivery order to KAC for 6,433 vertical pistol grips and 12,866 nine-rib rails covers.

NSWC-Crane issues an open solicitation for the FMBS. This will comprise up to 22,000 suppressors and accessories.

NAVICP issues a sole-source solicitation to KAC for M4-QD suppressors.

NSWC-Crane issues a sole-source solicitation notice to OPS Inc. for 65 3rd Model 5.56 Carbine Muzzle Brake Suppressors.

NAVICP issues a solicitation for 5,000 KAC M4 QD Sound Suppressors.

USASOC, Fort Bragg issues a solicitation for 204,000 rounds each of red and blue Simunition FX marking cartridges. These are for use at the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

TACOM awards a $1,369 delivery order to LMT for 28 M203A1 modification kits.

HK‘s Jurgen Gablowski files an US patent application for the attachment design of the AG36.

HK‘s Johannes Murello receives US Patent #6,508,158 titled “Firing lever arrangement for a firearm.”

February:
TACOM awards Colt a $2,954,925.79 contract option for 3,113 M4 and 98 M4A1. A few days later, 3,846 M4 Carbines are added for $3,313,371.55. (Most of this batch is destined for the USAF. Later in the month, an additional 244 M4 are added for $224,477.56.

TACOM awards a $2,584,741.62 delivery order to FNMI for 5,631 M16A4. Later, TACOM awards an additional $3,213.14 delivery order for seven M16A4, and a $4,131.18 delivery order for nine M16A4.

NSWC-Crane requests a safety release for the Mk 12 SPR and Mk 262 cartridge from the Weapon System Explosive Safety Review Board (WSESRB). WSESRB subsequently grants a limited release for the Mk 262 to USSOCOM. Official Operational Testing (OT) begins.

NSWC-Crane awards a $29,999,900 contract to Federal Cartridge Company for 5.56mm frangible ammunition.

TACOM awards a $176,490.50 delivery order to KAC for 500 M4 RAS, 600 vertical pistol grips, and assorted rails covers.

NSWC-Crane, on behalf of USSOCOM‘s SOPMOD program, issues a RFI for COTS/NDI Lightweight Machine Gun Muzzle Brake and Suppressors (LMGMBS) for small arms in 5.56mm and 7.62mm. Improvements are sought in materials, manufacturing process, high endurance coatings, and other unknown technologies that will yield extended performance suppressor life to a threshold of 15,000 rounds with an objective of 30,000 rounds under various firing schedules. Suppressor characteristics sought are: length 10 – 6.6 inches, weight 32 – 24 ounces, diameter 2 – 1.5 inches, sound reduction 20-28 dB, up to a 2.5 MOA zero shift when fitted to gun, with minor or no loss in instrumental accuracy, endurance to failure under harsh firing schedules approximately 10,000 rounds, and approximately 500 rounds under continuous belt-fed full automatic fire.

ATEC publishes the following in “Test Record Number S-51340“:

“The C-Mag is not suitable for use in training. The C-Mag demonstrated low reliability, poor durability, poor ergonomics, and resulted in a significant increase in weight for the same combat load.”

TACOM awards a $395,084.80 delivery order to Aimpoint for 1,403 M68.

TACOM awards Okay Industries a $3,784,600 contract option for the production of 635,000 M16 thirty round magazines.

TACOM awards Colt a $15,735 contract for M4A1 Reliability Kit replacement parts. This comprises 750 H2 buffers and 3,000 improved extractor springs.

A meeting is held at the 2003 SHOT Show between the SPC Product Team, other USSOCOM personnel, and representatives from the Department of Justice, Hornady, and Remington to discuss the evolution of the SPC project.

Israel announces the adoption of the IMI Tavor by the IDF. However, funds re not available for the immediate purchase of the rifle. An US partner is being sought for a co-production agreement so that the rifle will be eligible for purchase with US aid funds.

ARDEC awards a $500,000 contract to Ensign-Bickford Aerospace and Defense Company for 40mm XM1060 Multipurpose grenade production.

HK‘s Johannes Murello and Helmut Weldle receive US Patent #6,523,293 titled “Arrangement for Opening the Dust Flap of a Firearm.”

March:
PEO-Soldier issues a memorandum of urgent requirement for the procurement of 200 XM8 lightweight carbines.

TACOM awards a $3,672.16 delivery order to FNMI for eight M16A4. Later, TACOM awards an additional $5,049.22 delivery order for 11 M16A4.

TACOM awards Colt a $1,984,677.98 contract option for 1,769 M4 and 470 M4A1.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to FNMI for 1,363 M249.

US Army Developmental Test Command (DTC) grants a safety release for the Mk 12 SPR and Mk 262 cartridge.

The US Army, Office of the Project Manager, Maneuver Ammunition Systems, issues a sources sought announcement for the manufacture and delivery of 5.56mm, M995 AP cartridges. The basic contract is planned for award in FY 2003 with options up to 184,300 cartridges. The contract is expected to include four option years (FY 2004 – FY 2007) with a maximum total quantity amount of 4,350,000 cartridges.

Hugh A. McElroy and Michael R. Harris file a patent application for an improved projectile using a monolithic, heat-treated, steel core with a plated-on jacket. The design is claimed to offer an increase in accuracy, incapacitation effects, and penetration of light materiel targets as compared to the current 5.56mm NATO M855.

LCDR Gary K. Roberts, USNR, provides a written brief to RADM Albert M. Calland, USN, Commander Navy Special Warfare Command. The brief titled “Enhancement of NSW Carbine & Rifle Capability” recommends converting all 5.56mm NATO weapons in SEAL inventory to the new 6.8x43mm SPC.

HQ, USASFC sends the memo “Review of Mission Needs Statement (MNS), Advanced Rifle Cartridge (ARC).”

HK‘s Thomas Schweikart receives US Patent #6,536,150 titled “Automatic Firearm with a Moving Bolt Assembly with Locking Projections.”

The Philippine Armed Forces take delivery of 402 FN Minimi. 326 are distributed to the Army, and 76 are given to the Marines.

ARDEC, on behalf of PM-Soldier Weapons, directs ATK to cease work on the XM29’s 20mm ammunition. It has been decided to scrap the OICW‘s 20mm cartridge in favor of a 25mm cartridge. The goals include greater lethality while lowering costs in the development of air-bursting warheads.

TACOM announces its intent to procure up to 4,298 M5 collapsible buttstocks for the M249 from FN.

Aberdeen begins developmental testing of the C-More LSS (Lightweight Shotgun System).

NAVICP issues a solicitation for 1,421 Trijicon TA01M4A1 ACOG.

TACOM awards a $178,281 contract to Trijicon.

The NAAG‘s QRT hears formal presentations from FN and HK regarding ETBS‘ report, which evaluated their PDW cartridges. This leads to the commissioning of Switzerland’s Defence Procurement Agency in Thun to conduct further trials of the cartridges.

April:
The SCR is relabeled the SCAR (SOF Combat Assault Rifle). Now, the desired level of modularity includes larger cartridge conversions such as 7.62x51mm and a proposed .338 Short Magnum. The 7.62mm NATO-length configurations would be known as the SCAR-H (Heavy), while the 5.56mm NATO-length configurations would be the SCAR-L (Light). As such, these variants would replace the KAC Mk 11 Mod 0, the M14, the Mk 12 SPR, the SPR-V/KAC SR47, the CQBR, the M16A3, and the standard M4A1. The threshold accuracy loss is 1 MOA @ 300m, with an objective of 0.25 MOA at the same range. The desired objective range for area targets is increased to 800 meters for the SCAR-L. Threshold ranges for the SCAR-H are 600m point and 800m area, increasing to 800m/1000m as the objective. Barrel lifetime is specified as 10,000/50,000 rounds with the objective MRBS and MRBF increased to 8,000 and 50,000 rounds respectively.

The US Army’s PM-Soldier Weapons intends to negotiate with USSOCOM‘s PM-SOF Weapons regarding a potential role within the SCAR project, up to and including becoming the lead PM Office. Ideally, the Army would like to combine the SCAR with the XM8 as a spiral development project.

ARDEC issues a contract modification to the OICW contract that expands the XM8 carbine to include four weapon variants as a family of weapons.

The XM8 Program is entered into the Acquisition Information Management Database with PEO-Soldier shown improperly as the milestone decision authority.

The JSSAMP is updated for the fourth time. Near term goals (Next 8 years) include improvements to current “legacy” systems, along with development projects such as the XM8, the XM25 Airburst Weapon (ABW: a stand-alone version of the OICW‘s grenade launcher), and the XM29 Integrated Airburst Weapon (IABW: formerly the OICW). These entail the introduction of lightweight ammunition such as the polymer-case 5.56mm cartridges currently under development by Natec, integrated electronic systems such as combined thermal/image intensification optics and multi-function lasers, and improved warhead technology such as thermobarics for the 25mm HEAB munitions and the 40x46mm grenade (XM1060 Multipurpose).

Mid term goals (8-15 years) include ultra-lightweight ammunition, a family of lightweight weapons (most likely based on the XM8), steerable/course-correcting munitions, and further fire control improvements including target hand-off capabilities. The far term goals (15 years +) once again include directed energy systems, ideally with scaleable effects for Lethal and Non-Lethal applications.

TACOM awards a $16,524.72 delivery order to FNMI for 36 M16A4.

TACOM awards Colt a $2,007,219.64 contract option for 2,173 M4 and 9 M4A1. Later in the month, an additional 2,173 M4 are added for $1,999,138.27.

TACOM awards a $17,100 contract to Colt for three apiece non-firing replicas of the M4 Carbine, M16A4 Rifle, and M203 Grenade Launcher.

Aberdeen completes safety release testing for the 40mm XM1060 Multipurpose (thermobaric) cartridge. Within weeks, PM-Soldier Weapons receives an urgent need request for the XM1060 from Combined Joint Task Force 180 in Afghanistan. The available rounds (~1188) are shipped by the end of the month.

The CF C7A2 update is assembled from the following parts: an Accuwedge, ambidextrous controls (charging handle/magazine latch/selector switch), a C8 telescoping stock, green furniture, a one-piece gas ring, and the Diemaco Triad I, an accessory mount which clamps to the existing gas block/front sight base. The ELCAN C79 sight is also to be upgraded with a green cover, an upgraded mount spring, and replacement tritium inserts. The complete upgrade package is due for user testing late in the year.

SOPMOD PMO publishes the MDNS Performance Specifications.

TACOM awards Center Industries a $1,495,300 contract option for the production of 190,000 M16 thirty round magazines.

TACOM awards a $65,346.20 delivery order to KAC for 1,646 M249 vertical pistol grips.

USAF Air Mobility Command, 62nd CONS – McChord AFB issues a solicitation for 250 extended life M16 thirty round magazine springs.

David Armstrong receives US Patent #6,543,172 titled “Buttstock Assembly with Removable and Sealable Storage Tubes.”

C-More’s Ira M. Kay receives US Patent #D473,909 titled “Underbarrel shotgun.”

May:
TACOM awards Colt a $411,095.27 contract option for 29 M4 and 414 M4A1. These are intended for the US Army, USMC, and other Defense Agencies.

TACOM awards a $5,508.24 delivery order to FNMI for 12 M16A4.

TACOM awards $2,385,250 out of a $4,770,500 contract to FNMI for 1,363 M249.

WSESRB approves the safety release for the Mk 12 SPR.

NSWC-Crane, in support of the US Navy and USMC, issues a sources sought announcement for COTS sources of 5.56 mm Dim Tracer Cartridges.

The British announce the adoption of the FN Minimi Para (L110A1) to replace many of its L86A2 LSW. The remaining LSW will be used as a role similar to a Designated Marksman’s Rifle. Sources indicate that 2,472 weapons will be purchased, worth approximately £7.5 million ($12.3 million).

Hellenic Arms Industry (EBO) signs a 10 million Euro contract with FN to license production of the Minimi. The Minimi are for the Greek Special Forces.

HK‘s Helmut Weldle and Gerd Spinner receive US Patent #6,564,492 titled “Retractable Shoulder Stock.”

SOPMOD PMO is ordered to plan yet another transformation under the terms of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS). Likely, the SOPMOD PMO will become responsible for merely sustaining the existing M4A1, M203, and the contents of the SOPMOD kit as it currently stands, until its eventual replacement. Planned SOPMOD accessory upgrades such as the EGLM, FMBS, MDNS, Shot Counter, and SCAR will turn into their own independent programs, probably under the aegis of PM-SOF Weapons.

NSWC-Crane issues a sole-source solicitation to KAC for 70 apiece of the following items: M4 Flash Hiders, M4 Free Floating rail, M4-Two Stage Trigger, M4 Bipod Adapter, M4 Gas Block Adapter, AN/PAQ-4 Aiming Mount, Push-button swivels, and Free Floating RAS.

NAVICP awards KAC a $60,062 sole-source contract for M4-QD suppressors.

The DOD‘s Inspector General begins its audit of the KAC sole-source suppressor awards.

Magpul’s Richard Fitzpatrick and Stephen Hines file another patent application for a modular adjustable buttstock (now marketed as the M93).

June:
RDECOM assumes operational control of the AMC‘s various research, development, and engineering centers, including ARDEC.

PEO-Soldier issues an acquisition decision memorandum that starts an acquisition program for the XM8 carbine. It also authorizes entry of the program into the System Development and Demonstration phase. (However, PEO-Soldier did not have the proper authority to make this decision as the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) is the milestone decision authority for the OICW Program.) PEO-Soldier‘s memorandum further states that the XM8’s four weapon variants and the exit criteria for entry into production and deployment are based on the ORD for the Future Combat Rifle. (Yet not even a draft of Future Combat Rifle ORD exists at the time.)

TACOM reduces its February 2003 delivery order to FNMI from 5,631 to 5,564 M16A4, deallocating $30,754.

Milestone C and the Fielding & Deployment Release (F&DR) are approved for the Mk 12 SPR and Mk 262 cartridge.

AFSOC requests a safety release for the Mk 12 SPR and Mk 262 cartridge from the Non-Nuclear Munitions Safety Board (NNMSB).

HQ, USASFC sends the memo “Advanced Rifle Cartridge (ARC) Research, Development and Requirements.”

The Dismounted Battlespace Battle Lab and the 82nd Airborne Division test four magnified optics for the M4 and M249 SAW, capable of use in both close quarters and at distances of more than 500 meters. The information gathered will be evaluated by the Directorate of Combat Development and be used to help establish the requirements for a Multi-Purpose Optic.

TACOM awards Center Industries a $1,998,980 contract option for the production of 254,000 M16 thirty round magazines. Later in the month, a second contract option valued at $3,999,998.33 is awarded for 508,259 additional magazines.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to Trijicon for 1,088 TA01NSN ACOG scopes.

Aberdeen finishes developmental testing of the C-More LSS.

The Ontario Knife Company’s Nicholas Trbovich, Jr. and Kathyln Susan Green file a patent application for the cosmetic design of the USMC Multi-Purpose Bayonet.

With the results of the Swiss testing, the NAAG‘s QRT recommends NATO standardization of the FN 5.7x28mm cartridge. Predictably, the German delegation protests the recommendation, citing issues with the Swiss trials and the QRT report. Foremost is the refusal to test HK‘s latest 4.6x30mm cartridge variant, optimistically named the “Ultimate Combat” round.

Development efforts for the XM25/XM29’s low velocity 25mm cartridge and the XM307’s high velocity 25mm cartridge are combined. General Dynamics takes the lead position in joint ammo development.

On behalf of the US Army, Frank J. Dindl files a patent application for a non-lethal cartridge having sufficient energy for use, without modification, in conventional self-loading firearms. One of the applications mentioned is providing a non-lethal cartridge for the grenade launcher of the OICW.

NSWC-Crane requests a safety release for the AN/PSQ-18 DNS from WSESRB.

Summer:
The US military accepts an improved extractor spring (NSN 1005-01-505-2886) for USSOCOM‘s M4A1 Carbine. It is later accepted for general use in the M4 and M4A1. (Note: This is not to be confused with an earlier replacement extractor spring using the same color spring insert (NSN 1005-01-424-5899), which was adopted sometime in or around 1999.)

After shooting with USAMU members at the Army Championships, soldiers of the 1-15 INF, 3rd Infantry Division lobby unit commander LTC John Charlton for a number of SDM rifles similar to those demonstrated by the USAMU. After testing a sample SDMR, LTC Charlton lobbies MG William Webster, Commanding General for the 3ID, for permission to allow 1-15 INF to run a test program. With MG Webster’s approval, 22 issue M16A4 are sent to the USAMU for conversion to SDMR. Based on successful fielding and training in 1-15 INF, MG Webster’s requests permission to field SDMR across the division.

July:
During the XM8 critical design review, ATK lists the compliance concerns it has with the XM8 family of four weapon variants. Instead of complying with the previously negotiated specifications for the system, HK recommends that the OICW Program Office change the specifications to meet what HK planned to produce. In response, the OICW Program Office agrees to modify the specifications to accommodate ATK and HK‘s changes to the specifications.

TACOM awards a $697 contract modification to FNMI for M16A2.

NNMSB provides safety certification for the Mk 12 SPR and Mk 262 cartridge.

TACOM awards a $1,807,911 contract modification to FNMI for 1,363 M249. These are for the Army, USMC, and FMS.

Wexford Group International (on behalf of the US Army’s Rapid Equipping Force) conducts tests on the Beta C-Mag with the 82nd Airborne at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. The field test is intended to evaluate the C-Mag as a back up for loose ammo, or when linked ammo is unavailable or in short supply. Its ultimate goal is to be an alternative to the link issue ammo. The results are once again negative. While loading the magazines, there are numerous jams, speed loaders break, and several magazines will not accept the full capacity of ammunition. Once live firing begins, there are repeated weapon malfunctions. Failures to chamber and double feeds are the most common problems.

TACOM awards Okay Industries a $1,652,696.08 contract option for the production of 277,298 M16 thirty round magazines.

TACOM awards Colt a $21,918 contract for M4A1 Reliability Kit replacement parts. This comprises 1,300 H2 buffers.

MARCORSYSCOM issues a solicitation for 3,155 M203 Quadrant Sight Spacers for use with the M16A4.

ARDEC awards a $240,975 contract to Tactical and Rescue Equipment, LLC for 10,500 Weapon Flashlight Mounts (WFM).

NSWC-Crane notifies ARMS that its RIS II proposal has been determined unacceptable “due to operational unsuitability for each of the four (SIR) configurations proposed.” The SIR models was deemed unsuitable on two counts: all four models raised the operator’s line of sight, and none adequately provided for the mounting of the M203 grenade launcher free of the carbine barrel.

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) issues a solicitation for 27 MARS-IR reflex sights.

KAC‘s Reed Knight and Doug Olson receive US Patent #6,595,099 titled “Multifunctional Firearm Muzzle Attachments.”

Tonny Kaempe files a patent application for an improved bipod for the M249.

MARCORSYSCOM, on behalf of the MCWL, issues a sole-source solicitation to Simunition for 5.56mm FX marking cartridges. A minimum of 306 cases of red cartridges will be ordered. This solicitation is in support of MCWL‘s Project Metropolis.

USAF Air Combat Command issues a sole-source solicitation to KAC for 5,014 M4 RAS, 600 M203 Leaf Sights, and 600 M203 Quick Release Brackets.

Wright-Patterson AFB issues a solicitation for 688 KAC M203 Quick Release Mounts.

TACOMARDEC awards multiple contracts related to technologies necessary for the development of the LFWA.

Israel confirms the purchase of IMI Tavor rifles by the IDF. However, the delivery of the first batch of 15,000 Tavor is deferred until certain improvements are completed.

HK‘s Johannes Murello, Wilhelm Fischbach, and Helmut Weldle receive US Patent #6,588,312 titled “Automatic Firearm with a Bolt Assembly that Moves Between a Closed Position and an Open Position.”

HK‘s Berthold Weichert and Gerhard Gielke receive US Patent #6,594,937 titled “Sighting Device for a Grenade Launcher Mounted on a Firearm.”

August:
LTC Matthew Clarke, Product Manager-Individual Weapons (PM-IW), announces an order of 200 XM8 for testing by ATEC.

TACOM awards Colt a $353,327.46 contract option for 378 M4 and 6 M4A1.

TACOM awards a $104,278 contract modification to FNMI for 34 M249.

TACOMARDEC issues a sole-source solicitation to Nammo for 4,238,000 to 8,185,000 M995 AP cartridges.

SCAR Industry Week is held. The following firms attend: Armalite, Inc., Colt’s Manufacturing Company, Diemaco, FN Herstal, Heckler & Koch, Inc, Israel Military Industries Ltd, Knight’s Armament Company, Lewis Machine & Tool Company, and Robinson Armament Company.

NSWC-Crane releases “Draft Performance Specification: SOF Combat Assault Rifle Light.” The caliber conversion requirements for the SCAR-L have been removed in favor of optimizing the weapon for the use of 5.56x45mm ammunition. (The proposed caliber conversions, such as 7.62x39mm, are instead intended to be passed along to the larger 7.62x51mm SCAR-H.) The SCAR-L is to possess the ability to interchange barrels to create three basic sub-variants: a Close Quarters Combat (CQC) variant with a 9-12″ barrel, a Standard (S) variant with a 13-16″ barrel, and a Sniper Version (SV) with an 18-20″ barrel. All of the barrels will be free-floating and interchangeable at the unit level (or user interchangeable as an objective). The barrel lifetime requirement has been increased to 15,000 rounds.

The Standard model will possess a multi-position collapsible or foldable stock giving an overall weapon length of 33.6″ extended and 29.9″ collapsed/folded (or less as an objective). It will weigh no more than 7.725 lbs unloaded (less than 6.6 lbs unloaded as an objective). The multiple-position collapsible/folding stock will carry over to the CQC, but the SV will be equipped with a fixed stock with limited adjustments for length of pull. They should use STANAG 4179 compliant magazines, but alternate magazine designs of similar size would be considered if they offered a significant improvement in reliability and durability. There is also an objective for a standard length, expanded capacity magazine, ideally offering an 60 round capacity. A large emphasis is placed upon totally ambidextrous controls and use. Bullpup designs are ruled out. Accessory rails are to be integral, and the bottom handguard rail needs to be able to withstand the launching of a 40x46mm grenade from an attached EGLM.

KAC‘s Doug Olson receives US Patent #6,609,319 titled “Bolt Assemblies for Firearms” and Patent #6,606,811 titled “Firearm Magazine with Improved Bolt Catch Actuator.”

Remington reportedly begins “full” production of the 6.8x43mm SPC.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to FNMI for 5,450 M249 Short Barrels.

NAVICP awards KAC a $3,436,397 sole-source contract for 5,025 M4-QD suppressors.

TACOM awards Okay Industries a $3,188,600 contract option for the production of 535,000 M16 thirty round magazines.

TACOM awards Center Industries a $4,071,505.15 contract option for the production of 517,345 M16 thirty round magazines.

TACOM awards Trijicon a $685,440 contract for 1,088 TA01NSN ACOG scopes.

TACOM awards Colt a $135,863 contract for M4A1 Reliability Kit replacement parts. This comprises 7,280 H2 buffers and 12,740 improved extractor springs.

USASOC, Fort Bragg issues sole-source solicitation to Tactical and Survival Specialties Inc. for 200 Simunition M4A1 flattop conversion kits.

Naval Special Warfare Group 2 issues a solicitation for 50 KAC M4 RAS (including 9 handguard panels & forward pistol grip), 100 KAC 200-600 meter flip up rear sights (BUIS), 50 KAC 300 meter flip up rear sights (BUIS), and 100 M4 QD Muzzle Compensator Kits.

NSWC-Crane issues a sole-source solicitation to Simunition for 90 each M16A2 conversion kits and magazines.

USAF Materiel Command, Tinker AFB issues a solicitation for 353 KAC M4 RAS and 110 KAC M203 Quick Release Mounts.

September:
The Joint Operational Requirements Document (JORD) for the SCAR is approved.

USMC Ground Board 2-03 convenes to draft the POM-06 (Program Objective Memorandum) GCE Advocates Capabilities List (ACL). Among the issues defined as an essential requirement are the Rifle Combat Optic and an automatic rifle replacement for the M249 in the infantry squad.

MARCORSYSCOM announces its intent to negotiate a sole source contract for 708 M4A1 Close Quarter Battle Weapons (CQBW) to support immediate Marine Corps Fleet Unit requirements.

TACOM awards a $2,336,600 delivery order to FNMI for 5,000 M16A4. The order is for FMS to Yemen. Later, TACOM awards an additional $17,442.76 delivery order for 38 M16A4.

TACOM awards Colt a $127,878.61 contract option for 139 M4. Later in the month, another 354 M4 are added for $309,827.88.

The 3ID receives approval to acquire and field SDMR. The USAMU begins construction of the required SDMR.

TACOMARDEC issues a RFI for COTS/NDI accessory shotguns which can meet the US Army’s needs with only minor modifications, or militarized 12 Gauge Shotguns that can function in both stand-alone and accessory capacities. The Accessory Shotgun shall be capable of attachment to the M4/M16 series of weapons and the Future Combat Rifle (FCR). It must use detachable magazines, weigh less than any current stand-alone shotgun, and maintain the ability to fire 2.75″ and 3″ lethal, non-lethal, and breaching ammunition. This shall be done without degrading accuracy, reliability, and durability of the weapon system (the accessory shotgun and the host weapon) from the baseline.

NSWC-Crane releases a pair of amendments to the MDNS solicitation. Revised proposals are requested from specific offerors for the RIS II and the ECOS-C.

After a pre-award debriefing for RIS II, ARMS files a protest with the GAO over the rejection of its four SIR models.

The DOD‘s Inspector General sends a memorandum to NSWC-Crane and NAVICP recommending that they cancel the August 2003 suppressor award to KAC.

TACOM awards FN a 5-year contract for a minimum of 875 M249 Collapsible Buttstocks. TACOM awards a $379,618.75 contract option for 875 M249 Collapsible Buttstocks. This is followed by a $485,912 delivery order for 1,120 additional buttstocks.

TACOM awards FNMI a $6,973,445.13 contract for 15,429 M249 Short Barrels.

TACOM awards Center Industries a $20,485.61 contract option for the production of 2,603 M16 thirty round magazines.

AFSOC, 16th CONS – Hurlburt Field issues a solicitation for 30 each M4A1 and M9 Simunition FX conversion kits, 90 M4 conversion kit magazines, FX marking cartridges, and spares.

On behalf of the US Navy, Michael M. Canaday and Mark R. Whalen receive US Patent #6,622,415 titled “Compact and Self-Contained Adjustable Sight Assembly.”

NSWC-Crane releases draft copies of revised performance specifications for the EGLM and a proposed EGLM Operational Requirements Document (ORD) Annex to the main SOPMOD ORD.

NSWC-Crane issues a sole-source solicitation notice to Lewis Machine and Tool (LMT) for 130 M203 grenade launchers equipped with 9 inch barrels.

HK‘s Johannes Murello and Helmut Weldle receive US Patent #6,625,917 titled “Bolt Assembly for a Firearm.”

TACOMARDEC issues a solicitation notice for an upcoming Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) regarding the development and system integration of a Small Arms Lightweight Family of Weapons and Ammunition (LFWA). As the “lethality component” of the Objective Force Warrior (OFW) program, the LFWA program will initially focus on the development of a lightweight machine gun and ammunition. The primary goal is a reduction in volume and weight, ranging up to a 30 to 40 percent decrease over existing systems. The designs may use a “clean slate” approach with no concern given to backwards compatibility with existing weapons and ammunition. Two major demonstrations of the new LFWA system are currently planned. The first will be a non-firing demo in mid FY06 to support the OFW Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD). The second demonstration will be an operational live-fire assessment, scheduled for late FY07. The program is projected to include three Phases: nine months for Phase 1, twenty-eight months for Phase 2, and five months for Phase 3. Down-select criteria may be used for either Phases 2 or 3 if multiple awards are made.

Indonesia’s military orders 5,000 Pindad SS-2 rifles. The SS-2 is a lightweight, optic rail-only variant of the Pindad SS-1 (the domestic production model of the FN FNC).

October:
USSOCOM issues a solicitation for SCAR candidates, followed later in the month by revised copies of “Draft Performance Specification: SOF Combat Assault Rifle Light” and “Draft Performance Specification: SOF Combat Assault Rifle Heavy.” The barrel change requirement is modified to allow exchanging of complete upper receiver assemblies. The objective MRBF is reduced to 35,000 rounds, and the same figure is also given as the objective barrel lifetime. The maximum threshold weight for the SCAR-L is reduced to 7.25 lbs. The Standard SCAR-H model will possess a multi-position collapsible or foldable stock giving an overall weapon length of 40.2″ extended and 30.3″ collapsed/folded (or less as an objective). It will weigh no more than 9 lbs unloaded. Offerors will be required to provide product sample SCAR-Ls as part of their proposals, consisting of three standard SCAR-L rifles, one CQC conversion, and a SCAR-H technical approach. The due date for submissions is given as June 19, 2004.

Thirty HK XM8 Lightweight Modular Weapon Systems (LMWS) are delivered to Aberdeen. The Multiple Attachment Point System (MAPS) has since been renamed Picatinny Combat Attachment Points (PCAP).

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to Colt for up to 100,000 M4/M4A1 carbines.

TACOM awards a $16,065.70 delivery order to FNMI for 35 M16A4.

TACOM-Rock Island, in support of PM-Soldier Weapons, issues a sources-sought announcement in preparation for second-sourcing M249 production.

USMC Ground Board 2-03 announces its recommendation to issue the M4 carbine with MWS forearms to replace the M9 pistol and M16A2 rifles carried by personnel such as small unit leaders and vehicle crew members. However, they recommend that the M16A4 remain the primary issue weapon for Marine riflemen.

TACOMARDEC awards a $6,879,570 contract to Nammo for the production of 7.62x51mm and 5.56x45mm AP ammunition.

KAC‘s Doug Olson and Reed Knight file a patent application for an improved barrel profile using golf ball-style dimples instead of fluting. Doug Olson also files a patent application for an upper receiver design with sectioned, interchangeable barrels and an improved gas system.

NSWC-Crane announces its intent to hold an EGLM-related Integrated Product Team (IPT) meeting with industry, scheduled for early November. The purpose of the IPT meeting is to refine the before-mentioned EGLM ORD Annex and the performance specification drafts.

The US Army’s Dismounted Battlespace Battle Lab (DBBL) announces that it has begun operational inspection and test firing of 200 C-More LSS for potential field trials in Afghanistan by the 10th Mountain Division. By the end of the month, 199 of the LSS are approved and packaged for shipment.

The DOD‘s Inspector General ends its audit of the KAC sole-source suppressor awards.

TACOM awards FN a $520,620 delivery order for 1,200 M249 Collapsible Buttstocks.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to FNMI for 1,600 M249 short monoblock barrels.

TACOM awards FNMI a $723,152 contract option for 1,600 M249 Short Barrels.

TACOM awards a $23,690 contract option to Bestwork Industries for the Blind Inc. for 1,000 M16 MWS Sling Adapter Kits. Later in the month, this order is increased by 455 kits for $10,788.95.

USAF Air Mobility Command, 43rd CONS – Pope AFB awards a $31,582.38 contract to SNC Technologies for Simunition Equipment and Accessories.

The Israeli firm ITL announces plans to outsource production of the Tavor’s MARS sight to a plant in India. An ITL subsidiary has been formed in the US to allow $6.5 million in US aid funds to be used to procure the sights.

The long rumored 6.8x43mm Remington SPC (Special Purpose Cartridge) is finally unveiled to the public at the annual meeting of the Association of the US Army (AUSA). Intended for use in converted 5.56x45mm weapons, the 6.8x43mm SPC launches a 115 grain projectile at 2,650 fps from a 16.5″ barrel. As rumored, the case is derived from the .30 Remington (albeit in an even shorter form than the .224E4/E5 Winchester and the FA-T116 6.35mm SCHV.) Also introduced are drop-on M16/M4 upper receiver conversions for the 6.8mm SPC built by Barrett and PRI. Unfortunately, rumors do not pan out regarding unmodified 5.56mm magazines holding 28 rounds of the new cartridge. The latter is only achieved with replacement magazine bodies designed especially for the 6.8mm SPC.

TACOMARDEC reissues its solicitation notice for the upcoming BAA regarding the Small Arms Lightweight Family of Weapons and Ammunition (LFWA).

November:
The JSSAMP is updated again.

TACOM awards a $18,402 contract modification to FNMI for six M249.

The 199 C-More LSS arrive in Afghanistan. Redesignated the XM26 12 Gauge Modular Accessory Shotgun System (MASS), the weapons will be used through the end of the 10th Mountain Division’s deployment. Results of the testing will be evaluated to determine whether the XM26 MASS will be issued throughout the US Army under the Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) program.

TACOM awards Center Industries a $7,183,673.04 contract option for the production of 912,792 M16 thirty round magazines.

TACOM awards FN a $520,620 delivery order for 1,200 M249 Collapsible Buttstocks.

MARCORSYSCOM, on behalf of the MCWL, issues a sole-source solicitation to Simunition for 125 M249 conversion kits. This solicitation is in support of MCWL‘s Project Metropolis.

Magpul’s Richard Fitzpatrick and Stephen Hines receive US Patent #6,651,371 titled “Modular Gunstock.”

Magpul’s Richard Fitzpatrick and Stephen Hines file another patent application for the M93 buttstock.

TACOMARDEC issues a sources sought notice to identify potential sources for the manufacture, inspection, testing, and delivery of 24,200 40mm M1006 Sponge Grenades. The M1006 is a non-lethal cartridge that is fired from the M203. The proposed design shall meet the following criteria:

  1. Compatible with the M203 grenade launcher attached to the M16A2 or M4 series of rifles with no changes to the standard operating procedures associated with loading, firing, and unloading the cartridge;
  2. Compatible with standard rifle and/or grenade launcher sights;
  3. No black powder propellant;
  4. No residue from firing deposited in barrel to the detriment of subsequent weapon firing/function;
  5. Effective non-lethal incapacitation out to a minimum range of 15 meters and maximum range of 30 meters (threshold); and a minimum range of 10 meters and maximum range of 50 meters (objective). When fired into a ballistic clay target, at a range of 15 meters (49 feet) shall produce a depth of deformation no greater than 44 millimeters and no less than 20 millimeters;
  6. Operational in climatic conditions from 0 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit;
  7. Capable of storage in climatic conditions of -50 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit;
  8. Shall be non-explosive and non-fragmenting upon target impact; and
  9. Have a functional reliability greater than 95 percent at temperatures between 0 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

TACOMARDEC issues a sources sought notice to identify potential sources for the manufacture, inspection, testing, and delivery of 33,880 40mm M1029 Crowd Dispersal Cartridges (CDC). The M1029 is a non-lethal cartridge that is fired from the M203. The current design consists of an aluminum case containing 48 rubber balls, each measuring 0.48 inches in diameter and weighing 1.3 grams. The proposed design shall meet the following criteria:

  1. Compatible with the M203 grenade launcher attached to the M16A2 or M4 series of rifles with no changes to the standard operating procedures associated with loading, firing, and unloading the cartridge;
  2. Compatible with standard rifle and/or grenade launcher sights;
  3. Shall demonstrate a 90 percent probability of hitting 4 of 5 standing E-type silhouette targets standing shoulder to shoulder at a range of 30 meters (threshold), 20 meters (objective);
  4. No black powder propellant;
  5. No residue from firing deposited in barrel to the detriment of subsequent weapon firing/function;
  6. The cartridge when fired into a ballistic clay target at a range of 15 meters, shall produce a depth of deformation no greater than 44 millimeters. When fired at a range of 30 meters, shall produce a depth of deformation no less than 10 millimeters;
  7. Operational in climatic conditions from 0 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit;
  8. Capable of storage in climatic conditions of -50 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit;
  9. Shall be non-explosive and non-fragmenting upon target impact; and
  10. Have a functional reliability greater than 95 percent at temperatures between 0 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

NSWC-Crane, on behalf of the Joint Non-Lethal Directorate, issues a market research notice for COTS 40mm Aerial Burst Flash Bang Cartridges. The latter will be used with the M79 and M203 grenade launchers. The grenade should have a sound output of approximately 175 decibels at a distance of 5 feet and a flash output of approximately 6-8 million candlepower.

HK unveils a prototype of its 4.6x30mm UCP (Ultimate Combat Pistol), the companion handgun to the MP7 PDW.

Late:
The British MOD announces that 1,412 SA80KA2 carbines will be purchased for issue to the Royal Armored Corps. Two to four carbines will be issued per armored vehicle. The carbines, roughly an improved version of the 1988 model, will be constructed using surplus LSW. These are ultimately designated the L22A2.

The Italian Army commissions Beretta to create a new assault rifle to replace the AR70/90.

December:
TACOMARDEC issues a pair of pre-solicitation notices regarding the XM8 Lightweight Assault Weapon System. The first regards design improvement efforts, including back-up iron sights, a visible bright light, a folding or collapsible buttstock, and an Automatic Rifle variant. The other concerns development and testing of seventy-two Safety Blank Firing Adapters.

TACOMARDEC later announces its intent to negotiate a sole-source contract with HK for 500 XM8 in four different configurations.

USSOCOM issues drafts of Section L (Proposal Requirements) and Section M (Evaluation Factors for Award) for the SCAR Performance Specification documents.

TACOM awards a $167,542.30 delivery order to FNMI for 365 M16A4. These rifles are intended for FMS.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to FN for 200 M249.

TACOM awards a $52,139 contract modification to FNMI for 17 M249.

TACOM issues Safety Of Use Message SOUM #04-005 regarding the use of blank ammunition with the M249 equipped with a short barrel. The combination is resulting in damage to the left inner rail of the receiver. It is reported that PM-Crew Served Weapons has started a fast track program to develop a BFA specifically for the short barrel. In addition, changes to the short barrel’s gas port size are being explored. The new BFAs are anticipated in the next six months.

TACOM awards a $1,642,520 delivery order to Aimpoint for 5,000 M68 and related accessories.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to FNMI for 3,253 short barrels for the M249.

TACOM awards Okay Industries a $4,396,703.92 contract option for the production of 737,702 M16 thirty round magazines.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to Polymer Technologies for 24,465 M249 100 Round Soft Pack Magazines.

TACOM awards a $268,627.35 delivery order to KAC for 4,465 vertical pistol grips and 8,930 nine-rib rails covers. Later, TACOM awards an $118,080 delivery order for 2,000 vertical pistol grips and 4,000 nine-rib rails covers.

The Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) issues a sources sought notice for a Combat Assault Sling (CAS). The CAS will possess the following characteristics:

  • Adapt to the M16A2 Rifle, M4 Carbine, M16A4 Rifle, and the Joint Service Combat Shotgun;
  • Long enough to suspend the weapon across the body (back or front) when carried by a combat equipped Marine;
  • Versatile enough to be shortened as needed for normal weapons carry when not in a tactical posture;
  • Must not obstruct Marine Corps Marksmanship firing position; and
  • Must be capable of ambidextrous use.

Later in the month, MARCORSYSCOM issues a combined synopsis/solicitation notice for the procurement of Rifle Combat Optics (RCO). Intended for the M16A4, the RCO will be fixed power optic in the 3.5 to 4.5x magnification range. Certain other requirements, such as the preferred reticule design, would appear to favor the Trijicon ACOG family. The prospective order is to fall between 3,000 and 10,000 units, filled over a period of three years.

The GAO sustains ARMS‘ protest over the rejection of its four SIR models from the RIS II competition. The ruling recommends that the SIR models be among the models considered for the contract award, and that ARMS be reimbursed for the costs of filing and pursuing its protest.

Joseph R. Moody and Joseph D. Gaddini file a patent application for the Grip-Pod.

The US Army Robert Morris Acquisition Center, Natick Contracting Division, announces its intent to negotiate and award a sole source contract to SureFire, Inc. for 110 Rifle Flashlights (M952XM06).

USAF Air Mobility Command, 89th CONS – Andrews AFB issues a sole-source solicitation to SNC Technologies for FX Marking Cartridges and Conversion Kits for the M4, M9, and M16.

ARDEC announces its intent to issue solicitations based on its sources sought notices for 40mm M1006 and M1029 non-lethal cartridges. ARDEC then amends its base amount for M1006 from 24,200 to 74,888, and for M1029 from 33,880 to 84,568.

KAC‘s Doug Olson files a patent application for an improved 40mm grenade launcher attachment which is shorter than the M203 and possesses a double action trigger mechanism.

HK‘s Wilhelm Fischbach and Robert Knöpfle file an US patent application for the dust cover locking mechanism for the OICW‘s grenade launcher.

HK and General Dynamics’ Santa Barbara Sistemas announce a joint venture agreement. The start-up company, called Sistemas de Armamento Ibericos (SAI), will use an existing Santa Barbara manufacturing plant at La Coruña in northwest Spain, while the design team will be based at Paracuellos de Jarama, near Madrid. The first cooperative assignment will be to develop a new assault rifle employing various new technologies. The La Coruña facility was previously used to manufacture CETME Model L rifles and the Ameli LMG.

(Next: 5.56mm 2004)

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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