Sig Sauer Inc. announced Tuesday that it has delivered its final prototype weapons to the Army as it competes for the chance to replace the M4A1 carbine and M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry units.
Sig is competing against Textron Systems and the team of General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Inc. in the Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon, or NGSW, effort, designed to begin arming close-combat units with a rifle and automatic rifle chambered for a specially designed 6.8mm projectile. Fielding is set to begin sometime in fiscal 2022.
Soldiers and Marines have been participating in soldier touchpoint evaluations, which give feedback to the three competitors that they can use to make improvements on their prototypes.
"Throughout the program, we have been given unprecedented access to the soldiers and Marines who will ultimately field these weapons," Ron Cohen, president and CEO of Sig Sauer, said in a news release. "These soldier touchpoint events have led to rapid advancements over the current weapons systems and resulted in our delivery of the most innovative Next Generation Squad Weapons system to the U.S. Army."
Sig designed its 6.8x51 hybrid cartridge to handle higher pressures to provide increased velocity and improved terminal performance on enemy soldiers, according to the release. The lightweight belt-fed automatic rifle is 40% lighter than the current M249 and reduces the recoil on the shooter to increase accuracy, it adds.
Sig's NGSW rifle prototype is a version of the gunmaker's AR-style MCX platform and features ambidextrous ergonomics that are familiar to all soldiers and Marines to help ease the transition to a new weapon system, Sig officials said in the release. Sig also submitted its proprietary suppressor to reduce the sound signature of both weapons.
"We are immensely proud that our entire NGSW submission has been designed, engineered, and manufactured as one integrated system by one single American company at our U.S. facilities," Cohen said in the release. "Each component has been exhaustively tested with the others to ensure peak operational performance and endurance for the rigors of the battlefield."
The Army plans to select a single firm to make both the weapons and ammunition in the first quarter of fiscal 2022 and to begin fielding them to close-combat units in the fourth quarter of the same fiscal year.
The Army selected Sig in 2017 to make the M17 and M18 9mm Modular Handgun Systems that will ultimately replace the M9 9mm pistol across all of the services.
"We have a proven and successful track record of delivering multi-branch, service-wide, successful weapons programs to the U.S. Army, and we stand ready," Cohen said in the release. "As a leader in the firearms manufacturing industry, we understand the challenge of bringing a system like this to reality. We designed our NGSW system to be production-ready and with every component coming from SIG, it presents minimal fielding risk to the U.S. Army."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.