The Maryland-based firm, best known for its work on case-telescoped (CT) weapons and ammo, delivered the first of five AR prototype demonstrators to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Armaments Center and Joint Services Small Arms Program, according to a March 24 Textron press release.
The Army is working with several gunmakers to develop prototypes -- both an automatic rifle and carbine version of the NGSW -- that are chambered to fire a special government-designed 6.8mm projectile.
Textron has developed light and medium machine guns that fire 5.56mm and 7.62mm case-telescoped ammunition under the Lightweight Small Arms Technology program, an effort the Army has invested millions of research dollars into over the last decade.
Last year, the company unveiled its new Intermediate Case-Telescoped Carbine, chambered for 6.5mm.
Textron officials say the firm's new 6.8mm prototype will be based on its 14 years of work on CT weapon systems.
"Moving from contract award to delivery of a revolutionary, next-generation weapon in just 15 months not only demonstrates the maturity of our CT technology, but also the project execution excellence our team possesses to rapidly fill critical warfighter needs on schedule," Textron Systems Senior Vice President of Applied Technologies & Advanced Programs Wayne Prender said in the release.
"Our CT weapons and ammunition offer the growth path to a true next-generation small-arms weapon for U.S. warfighters, including increased lethality at longer ranges, while also delivering significant weight reductions to the warfighter," he added.
In 2018, Textron also received a separate Army contract to develop a prototype weapon for the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle-Prototype Opportunity Notice program and remains on track to demonstrate the weapon in June 2019, the release states.
In addition to Textron, the Army awarded prototype contracts to General Dynamics-OTS Inc., PCP Tactical LLC and Sig Sauer Inc. Two contracts were awarded to FN America LLC, according to a July 2018 contract award notice.
The Army wants the automatic rifle version of the NGSW to weigh no more than 12 pounds and have a maximum length of 35 inches, according to the prototype opportunity notice document.
Both the automatic rifle and carbine versions of the NGSW will feature an advanced fire-control system designed to automatically adjust for environmental conditions as well as integrate thermal, infrared pointer and other weapons accessories into one system, U.S. military officials have said.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.