New US service rifle!!??


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reagansquad
August 25, 2004, 04:44 AM
http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Aug/23/mn/mn01a.html

Army zeroing in on new rifle

By Tony Adams
Knight Ridder News Service


COLUMBUS, Ga. — The U.S. Army's pursuit of a weapon to replace the aging M-16 rifle is still on track despite a failed congressional attempt to pump nearly $26 million into the federal budget to manufacture the weapon in 2005.


Riflemen with the I Marine Expeditionary Force shoot M-16 rifles during live-fire exercises in the Kuwaiti desert. The Army is testing a new prototype rifle, below, to replace the M-16, but the cost of manufacturing the XM8 assault rifle is not yet in the budget.
Advertiser library photo

Military and legislative officials said development and testing of the new XM8 assault rifle will run through December. It is the second round of tests for the highly anticipated rifle, with evaluations taking place in the hot, gritty desert near Yuma, Ariz., the tropical jungles of Panama, and the arctic climate of Alaska, said Col. Mike Smith, who oversees the XM8 testing program at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.

"After this round of testing, we will present our findings and our ability to meet the requirements, which are developed at Fort Benning, to the Army leadership, which should be in the late February time frame," Smith said.

"Then they'll make a decision on how to go forward on the program, and how fast to go forward on the program."

German gunmaker Heckler & Koch, which has a U.S. site in Sterling, Va., is working with the military on the prototype rifle. It would be mass-produced by H&K at a 150,000-square-foot plant the company plans to build in Columbus, Ga.

H&K spokeswoman Jimmi Clifton said initial work could mean about 200 jobs, although more could be added as production ramps up. The company has said a contract with the government could be very lucrative, perhaps worth up to $1 billion over 10 years.

Clifton said the company remains in a testing mode and is hoping to begin plant construction soon and have at least part of the facility up and running by early 2005. But it's unlikely the entire factory will be built until H&K receives some signal that federal funding for mass production of the XM8 is forthcoming, she said.

"There's no way I can put a time on that," Clifton said of a production contract. "It could be tomorrow. It could be a year away."

It appeared funding was on the way in July when U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey's office said $25.9 million had been tucked into a $417.5 billion House appropriations bill for the XM8.

The Georgia Republican, whose district includes a portion of Columbus, backed off that assertion after learning the money had been squeezed out of the budget to make room for additional funding for the war on terrorism.

The next chance for the XM8 program to receive money for manufacturing and procurement will be when Congress reconvenes Sept. 7, said Brian Robinson, communications director for Gingrey.


U.S. Army photo
"We're going to do everything we can to get this into the next supplemental budget," Robinson said.

"We understand what happened and we want to fix it as soon as we can."

Should funding come through this year, Smith said the XM8 could be in soldiers' hands as soon as summer 2005. If not, the weapon would be in the 2006 budget and make its way into the ranks by that spring.

The $26 million in funding that was shot down by Congress would have outfitted about two combat brigades, or about 8,000 soldiers, Smith said.

Although Army leadership could decide in February to put a final approved version of the XM8 assault rifle out for competitive bidding, Smith said that's unlikely.

"I can't make promises for senior Army leadership," he said. "But assuming H&K is successful testing against the requirements, it would be unusual" to take the production contract away from the company.

The weapon is getting high marks from troops during evaluations, said Smith.

Observations include:

• It's more versatile than the old M-16 rifle it will replace and should fire thousands of rounds before jamming, rather than the few hundred shots before the M-16 typically jams.

• It's much easier to clean and maintain.

• Training time is reduced since it's a single weapon that can be modified to fire short distances, long distances, launch grenades, etc.

• It should last longer, with barrels able to fire 15,000 rounds before being replaced rather than the 6,000 to 9,000 rounds it takes to wear out an M-16 barrel. Developers are trying to push the XM8 barrels to 20,000 rounds before replacement.

The XM8 will cost more to make initially, but should settle into a full-rate production cost of $600 to $700 a copy. That compares to $500 for the M-16 and $950 for the M4 carbine.

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reagansquad
August 25, 2004, 04:46 AM
...Now I don't know much about contemporary demands on military rifles, but the fact that the thing has no iron sights strikes me as a possible hazzard.

reagansquad
August 25, 2004, 04:47 AM
http://www.webmutants.com/strategypage/XM8_Rifle_2.jpg

natedog
August 25, 2004, 04:55 AM
I think the newest version has BUIS. I'd really like a civilain semi-auto only XM-8, but if the rifle does become the M-8, I doubt HK would go for the civilian market, and would focus on their military contracts first.

UnknownSailor
August 25, 2004, 05:20 AM
Didn't H&K ditch the carry handle, and put on a 1913 rail? Last I heard on the errornet....

reagansquad
August 25, 2004, 05:23 AM
I would buy a semi-auto civilian model...

Beren
August 25, 2004, 08:31 AM
It looks like a Laser Tag rifle. But then, I guess the M-16 was originally teased for looking like a "plastic toy."

molonlabe
August 25, 2004, 08:38 AM
God save us and our troops from Rumsfield's obsession with technology.

lbmii
August 25, 2004, 10:23 AM
This would have been the right time to introduce the 6.8mm.

Vern Humphrey
August 25, 2004, 10:30 AM
Interesting story. The wife and I took time off from the congressional campaign to go to Rhode Island. Our son-in-law (who works for NASA) was presenting a paper, and chairing a session at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. We stayed at a bed-and-breakfast near the convention center.

Staying at the same place was a conference attendee from Aberdeen Proving Grounds. I asked him what he did, and he said, "Missiles, artillery, explosives -- anything that goes boom."

I asked about the XM8 -- he said, "they've been around and around with that thing -- they've got to adopt it, or be accused of wasting money."

Interesting reason for adopting a new weapon.:(

WT
August 25, 2004, 10:47 AM
If HK gets the contract, I guess that will put Colt out of business.

El Tejon
August 25, 2004, 11:13 AM
WT, we can only hope! Maybe someone will snap it up, cut the ties to the government of CT and move it the heck out of there!:cool:

PMDW
August 25, 2004, 11:20 AM
If HK gets the contract, I guess that will put Colt out of business.

Hasn't FN been the main suppluer of rifles to the military for a couple decades now?

I very much doubt Colt is going anywhere any time soon.

I personally don't like the XM8, and think that HK is the great satan. But that is my opinion.

MrMurphy
August 25, 2004, 11:29 AM
FN is the current supplier of M16A2s and A4s, the M249 and M240G machine guns. I think Colt still makes the M4s.

DevilDog
August 25, 2004, 11:42 AM
My 2 cents....

We have always made the rifle what we adopt, and whatever cartridge we throw in it is whay we use, and I think that is a bit backwards.

The M16/M4 do the job well enough that we have reached the point that we should not be looking at a new rifle platform. Since it is the cartridge/bullet that does the work, we should first determine what cartridge(s) we should be using.

If/when we can come up with a laboratory method of testing that can at least somewhat accurately predict bullet performance on a human target, with/without body armor, we should then determine if a .223, .308 or something between, such as a 6.8, 6.5, etc, is the way to go.

Then once we know our cartridge need, we go from there.

Right now, I see an XM-8 in .223 not taking us much further into the future.

Vern Humphrey
August 25, 2004, 11:52 AM
Quote:
---------------------------------------------------
We have always made the rifle what we adopt, and whatever cartridge we throw in it is whay we use, and I think that is a bit backwards.
----------------------------------------------------

Actually, the .30-40 and the .30-03 were designed before the rifles to fire them were selected/designed (the .30-06, of course, is a modified .30-03).

The cartridge that became the 7.62X51 NATO was adopted before the M14 was developed -- there were several candidate rifles tested that used that round.

The same is true of the .45 ACP, and the cartridge now known as the 5.56X45 NATO preceded the AR-15.

Quote:
-------------------------------------------------
The M16/M4 do the job well enough that we have reached the point that we should not be looking at a new rifle platform. Since it is the cartridge/bullet that does the work, we should first determine what cartridge(s) we should be using.
---------------------------------------------------

The XM8 simply offers no significant tactical capability over the M16. The fact that it looks sexy is not adequate justification for adopting it.

Harry Tuttle
August 25, 2004, 11:57 AM
http://premium.uploadit.org/docZox/XM8.jpg

Ric
August 25, 2004, 12:16 PM
The more complicated you make something the more a GI is gonna break it or not use it to it's potential. That's why a Chemlight is perfect for a Joe Blow Troopie, no moving parts and he has to break it to get it to work.

Why not design a better round on an M-16 platform? 6.8 on the same frame and design would reduce training time to near zero and still be more effective. I kind of agree with Molonlabe, if it looks "spacey" then we need it type of attitude has got to stop. the atricle says we need to replace the "aging" M-16, When have they replaced the old worn out M-16's with new ones. Just cause it's old doesn't mean that the design is bad or flawed. An updated and larger caliber M-16 would be my first choice.

rant concluded

Fmr SSgt US Army and firearms instructor

DigMe
August 25, 2004, 12:23 PM
New US service rifle!!??


http://img32.exs.cx/img32/8833/lastweeksmaller1.jpg


j/k :neener:



brad cook

Telperion
August 25, 2004, 12:28 PM
Can somebody post a picture of the new flattop version?

If the XM8 is more versatile than the M16, why are there no provisions for rails and aftermarket optics? Also, that folding rear sight in Harry Tuttle's picture doesn't inspire much confidence.

mainmech48
August 25, 2004, 12:53 PM
Just a random thought, but does anyone know whether or not they took a look at the operating principle used in the AN-94 to incorporate into a new service rifle?

From what I've been able to gather, it offers an approximately 150% increase in hit probability at combat ranges, is extremely rugged and reliable in operation and is as least as easy (if not easier) to clean and maintain as the M16.

I'm just guessing, but I'll bet that we could get the patent rights or license the design for a bunch less than it's costing to develop this one. If the Russians can't afford to build and issue them to their troops at this time, perhaps we could sort of short circuit their doing so by buying it out from under them.

buy guns
August 25, 2004, 01:19 PM
this was on the cover of one of the newer popular mechanics. they actually have a whole section on present and future military weapons.

SunBear
August 25, 2004, 02:05 PM
There are still ways to increase the lethality of the 5.56 and as for the XM8, they need to lose that "carrying handle". The Army won't let the soldiers use it anyway. Catches on everything and is just in the way. Happy trails.

Dave R
August 25, 2004, 06:07 PM
God save us and our troops from Rumsfield's obsession with technology.

Just to take the opposing point of view....

I'm sure someone said something similar about:
-percussion caps
-repeaters
-the Garand and other semi-autos.

I'm not a fan of a 10" barrel for .223, but the ranged 20mm airburst seems like a great tactical advantage for our guys. And the other 20mm ammo (AP, etc.) gives a small squad a lot of versatility.

madmike
August 25, 2004, 06:54 PM
"• It's more versatile than the old M-16 rifle it will replace and should fire thousands of rounds before jamming, rather than the few hundred shots before the M-16 typically jams.'

I imagine I've handled several dozen atypical ones, then, including M16s, M16A1s, M16A2s, M203s, AR15s, CAV15s, OA15s, etc. Only three jams I've ever had were a bad mag, a torn rim and a sudden drop to -30 that gelled the oil. If it's really a concern, you can switch to a piston mechanism instead of direct gas.

"• It's much easier to clean and maintain."

So's the AK, but I don't want the POS.

"• Training time is reduced since it's a single weapon that can be modified to fire short distances, long distances, launch grenades, etc."

Sort of like the M16, M4, commando, M203 and 24" sniper AR?

"• It should last longer, with barrels able to fire 15,000 rounds before being replaced rather than the 6,000 to 9,000 rounds it takes to wear out an M-16 barrel. Developers are trying to push the XM8 barrels to 20,000 rounds before replacement."

Replacement barrels are just as available for the M16. A new receiver is not needed to accomplish this. Likewise, if they went back to a barrel that rifled rather than threaded, so to speak, life would extend.

"The XM8 will cost more to make initially, but should settle into a full-rate production cost of $600 to $700 a copy. That compares to $500 for the M-16 and $950 for the M4 carbine."

So it will cost slightly more and do pretty much the same thing. Brilliant. And where do the rails mount?

Bruce H
August 25, 2004, 09:15 PM
Looks like we are letting video gamers design our weapons. Why must we try to have rifles like military aircraft. Throw so many different things at it to make it all mission capable. Makes for an end product that can't do anything really well and needs lots of maintainance.

Vern Humphrey
August 25, 2004, 09:29 PM
Quote:
----------------------------------------------
Throw so many different things at it to make it all mission capable. Makes for an end product that can't do anything really well and needs lots of maintainance.
-------------------------------------------------

That's called the "Dreadnaught Principle." A Dreadnaught is defined as a weapon so powerful and sophisticated that if you had two you'd be guarenteed to win any war.

And so expensive you can only afford one.

And so complicated that it's always in the shop.

For more information, see "B1b Bomber.":D

pittspilot
August 25, 2004, 11:50 PM
I want to know more about the $500 M-16. Why do Colt Ar's cost so much even though they blocked DA SWITCH.

Houndawg
August 26, 2004, 02:40 AM
I want to know more about the $500 M-16. Why do Colt Ar's cost so much even though they blocked DA SWITCH.


Because it says Colt on it. People will pay money for the pony because they think it's the best, even though there is better on the market.

natedog
August 26, 2004, 02:52 AM
You get the $500 price when you commit to buy thousands of M-16s.

Tony Williams
August 26, 2004, 03:29 AM
Just a random thought, but does anyone know whether or not they took a look at the operating principle used in the AN-94 to incorporate into a new service rifle?

From what I've been able to gather, it offers an approximately 150% increase in hit probability at combat ranges, is extremely rugged and reliable in operation and is as least as easy (if not easier) to clean and maintain as the M16.

It's not that good - it is mechanically far more complex than other rifles and not easy to maintain. It also puzzles me that the Russians bothered with it since the AK-74 is already the lightest-recoiling military rifle around and a trained soldier can keep all of a burst on target.

There were various other weapons included in the Abakan trials which led to the selection of the AN-94, some of them with interesting technical approaches. They will be described and illustrated in the new book by Max Popenker and myself - 'Assault Rifle: the Development of the Modern Military Rifle and its Ammunition' - due out in a couple of months.

Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website (http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk) and Discussion forum (http://forums.delphiforums.com/autogun/messages/)

shoobe01
August 26, 2004, 06:35 PM
I thought I had heard that governments ordering any useful quantity pay much more like $180 per M16. And this is quite in line with prices for other small arms. Even police departments committing to like 50 will get a sub-$400 price.

The price we all pay is promoting, merchandizing, shipping, sales, middlemen and profit. Too bad... I'd have a /lot/ of rifles at $250 a pop.

Badger Arms
August 26, 2004, 06:51 PM
You're quoting prices for the rifle itself in quantity. You aren't seeing the optics, RIS's, infrared designators, fore-grips, batteries, doohickies, widgets, bottle openers, and other items that the Army Wants. Sure, you can get a basic Used M16 for $200 and a brand spanking new one for under $500. That rifle, however, will NOT be an M4 like the wonderguns that the Army wants.

shoobe01
August 27, 2004, 01:23 AM
Not to be an old fogey, but why do I want all this stuff? Does this make a better weapon?

I see how some of it has value, to specific missions, but does every rifle need an aimpoint, PVS-14, pistol grip, white light, PEQ-4, grenade launcher and oh, I must be missing something... at all times! I can't believe how loaded down some things were at the beginning of all this latest unpleasantness.

(They seem to be rather more streamlined these days, I will note. Could just be my impression, but lots more just plain guns it seems).

Should we not pursue a basic gun, that works most of the time for most of the soliders, and can be expanded to accomodate a rail(s) for mounting of specific accessories? BTW, I have been wondering lately why there is a rail at 4 positions? Has anyone seen a serious person mount something sturdy (GL, sight) on the sides? It seems we need something like an integral swansleeve top and bottom, and just handguards on the sides. Maybe a plastic rail for lights on the front of these guards. I can imagine forging the upper recievers on M4s to accomodate this...

Back on topic(ish), I understand the unit cost, vs. lifecycle cost, vs. whatever costs issues. I fear this base rifle really will cost over $500 when in full swing. HKs at base rifle -- I hear -- are around $500, compared to the ARs apparent ability to be sold for half that.

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