My good friend Matt Cox over at Army Times has done it again.
In what might be the best military weapons story of the year so far, Matt got his hands on a brief that shows the Army is seriously looking at major improvements to the current M4, including a heavier barrel, a new round counter and potentially moving to a gas-piston operating system.
The improvements, if implemented, would address most of the major criticisms of the current M4 configuration and would also answer the mail on a study of the 2008 Wanat battle that seemed to indicate that some weapons had a high incidence of stoppages when fired at high cyclic rates.The fixes were outlined in a briefing from PEO Gen. Pete Fuller to lawmakers who've been pushing the Army to modernize the M4 in substantial ways. Matt's story jibes with what the Army has been saying all along that it would continue to improve the M4 even as it searches for a so-called "improved carbine" which might night land in Joes' hands until 2013.
Army weapons officials say they want to give soldiers something better, sooner. While there is no set timeline, the hope is “to have this nailed by [early] January,” said Col. Doug Tamilio, the head of Project Manager Soldier Weapons.
“As we move down this carbine competition path, let’s continue to make substantial improvements to the M4,” Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller said Oct. 27. Fuller commands Program Executive Office Soldier, the command responsible for soldier weapons development.
The Army has made 62 changes to the M4 since it began fielding the weapon in the mid 1990s, weapons officials maintain. The changes have ranged from improved extractor springs to high-tech optics to a more reliable magazine.
But soldiers’ criticisms of the M4’s performance have continued.
Be sure to read the entire story, but by the looks of it, the work that Matt's done (and we've done here) might be moving the geologic entity that is the institutional Army on one of its most fundamental programs.