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US Army to retire Browning .50 cal for new weapon?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Preacherman, Jul 18, 2003.

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  1. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    From the Army Times (http://www.armytimes.com/print.php?f=0-ARMYPAPER-2007576.php):

    Issue Date: July 21, 2003

    70-year-old .50-cal. may be retired soon

    By Matthew Cox
    Times staff writer

    After 70 years of service, the Army’s oldest machine gun — the M2 .50-caliber — soon may be on its way to retirement.
    Within two years, the XM312, a lighter, more accurate .50-caliber, will start replacing John Browning’s “Ma Deuce,†if the staff at Project Manager Soldier Weapons gets its way.

    The XM312 evolved out of the XM307 project, a new style of crew-served weapon capable of delivering highly accurate, 25mm air-bursting ammunition on targets out to 2,000 meters. The innovative weapon is scheduled for fielding in 2010 and is slated to be the primary support weapon for the Army’s Future Combat Systems.

    But weapons experts don’t want to wait that long to give soldiers a weapon with the XM307’s stability and accuracy.

    By changing the barrel and a handful of other parts, the XM307 prototype becomes the XM312. “We changed six parts and turned it into a .50-cal.,†said Lt. Col. Robert Carpenter, who runs Product Manager Crew Served Weapons.

    The XM312 is nine times more accurate than the M2 because of its “open bolt, out of battery action,†meaning that the barrel of the weapon moves when firing rather than the bolt, cutting down on the recoil, he said.

    “You are talking about a weapon that is very accurate in a .50-cal., in full auto because you don’t have the recoil, so you don’t have the gun jumping every time,†Carpenter said.

    The XM312 weighs 43 pounds — 66 percent lighter than the 128-pound M2.

    In 2010, when the Army begins fielding the XM307, the service also will field conversion kits so units that already have the 307 can switch out a few parts and choose between a .50-caliber and a 25mm weapon.

    “The ability to change from [.50-caliber to 25mm] with minimal difficulty is an option that will appeal to many people,†said Jim Stone, deputy for the Infantry Center’s Directorate of Combat Developments.

    While the XM307 likely will be used alongside the XM312, weapons experts say the computerized fire-control system will give units an edge they have never had on the battlefield.

    “It’s laze, aim and shoot. I see a target; I laze to the target; I get a ballistic reticle; I move the reticle to the target; and I hammer away,†Carpenter said. “And those rounds will burst at that range.â€

    Unlike regular machine guns, the XM307 makes sure each round is on target by talking to the computer chip inside the 25mm round.

    “You are going to have dispersion from round to round. An extra grain of powder is going to give you a little bit of this and a little bit of that,†Carpenter said. “We correct that every time because we talk to every shot.â€

    More buck for the bang

    But fielding this high-tech system won’t be cheap.

    “This isn’t going to be a buck a round or $2.50 a round like the .50-cal.,†Carpenter said. “It’s going to be a little more, because you are putting a computer chip in there, about $22 a round.â€

    The MK19’s grenade launcher’s 40mm round costs about $16 each.

    Despite the higher cost, the XM307 is slated to eventually replace the MK19, said weapons experts, who argue the 25mm round outperforms the less-effective 40mm round.

    “An MK19 round is big and slow,†said Carpenter, describing the high-arching trajectory of the 40mm round. “When I flatten that trajectory out [with the 25mm round] I increase the velocity. I am going to get it to the target faster, more accurately, versus this slow lobbing thing … I’ll put three rounds on that target faster than the first [40mm] round will get there if you are talking 1,200 to 1,400 meters.â€

    The XM307 with a ground tripod weighs about 50 pounds, making it far less cumbersome than the 128-pound M2 or the 144-pound MK19. But it is still far too heavy for dismounted operations, and the Infantry Center wants to make it lighter.

    “Originally, it was thought it would be light enough to replace the automatic weapon down to the squad level,†Stone said.

    Carpenter pointed out that both the XM307 and XM312 are intended for mounted operations, but their lighter weight makes it easier for soldiers to take these weapons with them if their vehicle becomes disabled.

    “It’s still big. It’s cumbersome, but it does give you the opportunity to displace that weapon from a vehicle,†he said.

    The Army likely will spend more than $120 million on XM307 before its scheduled 2010 fielding. And if XM312 is adopted in two years, it may cost more than $400 million to eventually replace the roughly 25,000 M2s in the Army, said Pete Errante, deputy product manager for PM Crew Served Weapons.

    While Infantry Center officials have been pleased with the M2’s service, they know nothing lasts forever. “There a so many .50-cals. out there, it will take us years and years to replace them,†Stone said.

    “What we don’t want to do is wait until they start breaking down.â€
     
  2. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    “This isn’t going to be a buck a round or $2.50 a round like the .50-cal.,†Carpenter said. “It’s going to be a little more, because you are putting a computer chip in there, about $22 a round.â€

    The MK19’s grenade launcher’s 40mm round costs about $16 each."

    It sounded pretty good until this part. Why am I not surprised? :rolleyes:

    THIS is priceless:

    While Infantry Center officials have been pleased with the M2’s service, they know nothing lasts forever. “There are so many .50-cals. out there, it will take us years and years to replace them,†Stone said.

    “What we don’t want to do is wait until they start breaking down.â€
    ---

    Well there's the problem right there! The stupid M-2's don't break down enough! What was JMB thinking? Cheap, reliable and durable? That's no way to build for the gov'ment! I'm glad we've progressed since his day.
     
  3. Boats

    Boats member

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    I'll bet that almost all of those M2s were manufactured before 1986!:evil:
     
  4. TheeBadOne

    TheeBadOne Member

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    I'll hold my breath a little longer. The M-85 was a M-2 replacement in the M-60 series of tanks. When the M-1 tank came out they went back to the M-2......:rolleyes: Newer isn't always better. The XM312 (and 307) do sound quite promising. Hope it'$ worth it.
     
  5. WT

    WT Member

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    First they get rid of the 1911. Now its the Ma Deuce. Is nothing sacred???
     
  6. El Rojo

    El Rojo Member

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    Now if we were really a great country, all of those Ma Dueces would be sold to the public to fund the new weapon. Instead, they throw all of that money down the drain. Depressing.
     
  7. TheeBadOne

    TheeBadOne Member

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    Usually 2 things happen.

    1). The equipment will go to the Reserves and the National Guard units.

    2) The equipment will be sold to the militarys of other countries.
     
  8. telomerase

    telomerase Member

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    Our frugal government

    >Usually 2 things happen.

    >1). The equipment will go to the Reserves and the National Guard units.

    >2) The equipment will be sold to the militarys of other countries.

    Ummm, at the end of WWII the US had enough planes, tanks, and guns to rearm Western Europe... most of the equipment was destroyed. They were in such a hurry to get rid of the hardware that they blew up thousands of aircraft on the fields in Europe. (They have pictures of the process on the walls of the Air Force Museum in Dayton).

    Of course I agree with you that surplus equipment SHOULD be given to the Reserves or friendly countries, but sometimes it's "more important" that campaign contributors get those contracts.... and that's easier when the old equipment is destroyed.

    You do know that the Saturn rockets outside the museums were real, operational launchers before they were left out in the rain, right?
     
  9. Schuey2002

    Schuey2002 Member

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    IF they were available to the public, would they be classified as a Curio & Relic or strictly as a Class III weapon??

    :confused:
     
  10. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    A friend told me that while in Vietnam he came across one with a date stamp of 1928...
     
  11. mete

    mete Member

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    Browning was a gun design genius The army will have to go a long way before they get a gun as good as the M2. The trouble with so many designers today is that they are enamored with high tech and they think that people in the "old days " were idiots.
     
  12. blades67

    blades67 Member

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    They do break down. Just because you don't hear about doesn't mean it isn't happening.:rolleyes:


    They were manufactured before 1948. There haven't been any new M2's produced since the end of WWII.
     
  13. Deadman

    Deadman Member

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    What is the obsession with air bursting munitions and the employment of computer chips in all equipment?

    Imagine an emp blast making your ammunition fail to fire.....
     
  14. telomerase

    telomerase Member

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    >What is the obsession with air bursting munitions and the employment of computer chips in all equipment?

    Well, how is Skynet (aka TIA) supposed to control weapons that don't have any Internet connection?

    (Good point about EMP)
     
  15. seeker_two

    seeker_two Member

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    Well, since all them ol' M-2's are so obsolete, I guess ATF WOULD consider them C&R and let us in the public own a few...

    :scrutiny:
     
  16. digex

    digex Member

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    $22 a round?!?!? I need to buy stock in THAT company! That's an insane amount of money for a bullet, computer chip or not!
     
  17. SIGarmed

    SIGarmed Member

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    Anything that is putting a "computer chip" in there is scary. Computer chips and exploding ammo don't go together.
     
  18. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    "Computer chips and exploding ammo don't go together."

    Actually, I see it as nothing more than a logical extenion of technology that started with the proximity shells of World War II. Those were phenomonal technology, and done with vacuum tubes. Pretty amazing when you consider that a 5"/38 naval gun accelerates a shell at roughly 7,000 Gs.

    The only difference here is that the gun has a laser on it that automatically cauculates the range and sets the fuse on the shell just before it's fired as opposed to a gunnery directory working through a fire control center.
     
  19. Kharn

    Kharn Member

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    TheeBadOne:
    The Abrams also had a non-M2 .50 machine gun in the turret at one time, IIRC, I dont remember if it was the M-85 or not. It was a total POS, lots of small parts and a rate selector/reducer made it very complicated to disassemble and deal with, but it was smaller than the M2 so it fit in the turret. When the M1A1 (or might have been A2) specs were decided upon, the turret was enlarged slightly to accomodate an M2 and the POS .50 was thrown out.

    Kharn
     
  20. PATH

    PATH Member

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    If it ain't broke don't fix it. The more complexities the more things to go wrong. Ma Deuce is there for you when you need her. I hope she stays in the inventory!
     
  21. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    I suppose it never occured to anyone to simply build new M2s, to replace aging units as they are retired. You can always develop a new system, but building new M2s would get new weapons out there in the interim...
     
  22. Double Maduro

    Double Maduro Member

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    EMP making your ammo not fire? What about making it all go off in the depot or next to the guns or in the hold of a ship?

    What happens if the enemy gets the frequencies and codes? They can make it go off whenever they want.

    Just because we can do it doesn't mean we should.

    DM
     
  23. Majic

    Majic Member

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    Considering price overruns, imagine the price of the $22.00 round in ten years when it's suppose to hit the field.
     
  24. aircarver

    aircarver Member

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    Best not send the M2s to the smelter before we get some combat experience on the new model.

    Won't be the first time we heard 'great things' about the 'new wundergun' and found they didn't perform when the chips were down.
     
  25. Fed168

    Fed168 Member

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    Well, considering FN produces the majority of small arms for the military, why not just go to them for a new .50 and retire the US made ones?
     
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