A Kit Up! reader posed a good question on our tip line yesterday, asking which companies and designs were contending for the Army's Improved Carbine competition.
Soldier Systems Daily got to the issue first the other day, by pointing out a PEO Soldier released graphic describing the "dual path" Soldier Weapons is taking with both improving the current system into an M-4A1 (heavy barrel, ambidextrous controls, full auto) and looking to industry for a new rifle.
Our reader asks a simple question: when will we know the contenders?
According to PEO Soldier, the service plans to issue an RFP and conduct an industry day late this year (December-ish). It's then that we'll have a pretty good idea who's vying for the Army's small arms dominance. And that coincides well with next year's SHOT Show in Vegas, where the contenders will be touting their wares to folks like us who can give them some publicity.
The reader also asked about the new ammo technology we wrote about a while back with cased-telescoped and caseless ammo and their associated weapons. Kit Up! asked Col. Doug Tamilio about that program and he basically said the program is in such an early stage, he can't hold up the carbine improvements to wait for it.
That technology is good. It's going to provide some capabilities to our Soldiers that we don't have now. It's going to lighten the load. But we're still years out from being able to mass produce that stuff and then get it into our fleet because weapons have to be produced along with it. So what you've got is a problem because [the M4] probably couldn't handle it right now. So I've got to design the weapons with that ammo. So, I think when you see new machine guns being developed in the future you'll see them being developed with that ammo.He also mentioned the problem of interchangeability of ammo on the battlefield. If he has one weapon with specialized ammo, he's screwed if it runs out and no one else has a weapon that fires that ammo.
So, December for the improved carbine candidates; a long time before a cased-telescoped or caseless ammo-shooting gun.
Thanks for the tips folks...keep 'em coming!