Small-arms innovation programs may not be a high priority these days, but the U.S. Army continues to invest in its dream of a family of ultra-light infantry weapons.
The service awarded a $5.7 million contract last month to Textron Systems to develop a 7.62mm version of the Light Weight Small Arms Technology MG as well as a carbine variant.
The Army has had a strong interest in LSAT for the last decade. The system is far lighter than traditional machine guns, mainly because of its use of cased-telescoped ammunition.
LSAT’s cased-telescoped 5.56mm ammunition relies on a plastic case rather than a brass one to hold the propellant and the projectile, like a conventional shotgun shell. It weighs about 37 percent less than standard belted 5.56mm.
The 5.56mm LSAT weapon itself weighs about half as much as the 17-pound M249 squad automatic weapon.
“The LSAT Light Machine Gun recently took part in the Army’s Dismounted Non-Networked Experiment at Fort Benning, Ga., receiving positive user feedback,” according to a press release from Textron Systems.
Under this two-year award, the LSAT team will develop a cased-telescoped carbine, as well as 7.62mm CT ammunition and a machine gun operating mechanism, the release states.
The team includes Alliant Techsystems, ARES Incorporated, MSC Software and St. Marks Powder. It plans to build on the current LSAT technology, which consists of includes the compact light machine gun with a quick-change, 12-inch barrel and folding buttstock. It was developed for close-quarters applications and tested in 2012 by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
The effort has also produced the operating mechanism for a carbine variant.