In its fiscal 2019 budget request, the Army asked for $46 million toward CSASS, a program designed to provide snipers with an alternative rifle for certain missions that doesn't stick out to the enemy as a sniper weapon.
The M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System, or SASS, made by Knight's Armament Company -- the Army's current semi-auto sniper rifle -- is easier to recognize as it's 46.5 inches with suppressor, more than 13 inches longer than the M4.
The Army awarded Heckler & Koch a 2016 contract worth $44.5 million to build a variant of the G28 7.63mm, used by the German Army, as the service's new CSASS. The contract will buy up to 3,643 of these rifles.
The $46 million budget request is a big win for the program compared to last year, when the service requested no money for CSASS.
Army leaders have also pledged to arm infantry squads with a new 7.62mm Squad Designated Marksman rifle this year that is capable of penetrating body armor plates used by countries such as Russia and China.
In April, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn issued a direct requirement that would ensure that each combat arms squad is equipped with a new 7.62mm SDM.
Last May, Gen. Mark Milley testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the service's current M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round will not defeat enemy body armor plates similar to the U.S. military-issue rifle plates such as the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.
The Army quickly launched an ad-hoc effort to acquire a new 7.62mm Interim Service Combat Rifle, mainly for infantry units, but the idea quickly lost momentum.
But then Lt. Gen. John Murray, deputy chief of staff for Army G8, told Congress on Feb. 7 that the Army has accelerated the effort to start fielding a new 7.62mm SDM to squads this year.
It is still unclear if CSASS will also play a role in the SDM effort.
Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.