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Joint Combat Pistol Search Plods Along
Military.com  |  By Bryant Jordan  |  January 18, 2008

The Air Force's shot at acquiring a new pistol for its airmen as part of the 2007 supplemental missed its mark after congressional negotiators told blue suiters last spring to nix the buy and take part in a study for a new joint combat pistol.

Finally, Air Force weapons experts in early January briefed the Force Protection Functional Capabilities Board, which is part of the joint study group, on requirements for a new pistol, though additional internal briefings will be scheduled, Air Force spokeswoman Vicki Stein told Military.com this week.

Stein didn't have any details on the recent briefing, but said Air Force officials are working to get the appropriate coordination and approval from within the Joint Staff to get the pistols into the hands or Airmen as soon as possible.

The Air Force wants to replace its 100,000 aging and underpowered M9s, fielded in the 1980s, with new, higher-caliber weapons. Air Force officials believe its Airmen need something more powerful -- much of the talk has been of adopting a new .45 caliber pistol - to better protect themselves.

Many Airmen carry a handgun as their primary or only weapon, and officials previously said that many of the older weapons had misfired during training, raising concerns they could malfunction or break during operations.

The Air Force had asked for $90 million in the 2007 supplemental to buy new, more powerful pistols. Instead, congressional negotiators appropriated $5 million for a joint study on a new combat pistol, with the Army as the lead agent.

Even after that, Air Force officials had hoped the study could be completed in time to include funding for the new weapons in the fiscal 2008 budget.

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