Arming the Infantryman

Discussion in 'Weapons, Equipment & Rations' started by OldAdam, Mar 19, 2004.

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  1. Over on the Infantry board,(on the 'SLR and how it was used' thread), One of the Strange and myself have been conducting a small debate that was beginning to run off thread. The substance of this revolves around the arming of the individual rifleman ie; the 5.56 vs 7.62 argument.
    Although this involves tactical considerations we are talking about the most important piece of kit that any soldier is issued with, so perhaps the QM's board is most appropriate.
    O-o-t-S is of the opinion that the actual calibre of personal weapons is irrelevant, given the lethality of support weapons now available at Pln and Sect level.
    I would argue that we need to return to a larger calibre personal weapon capable of delivering a one shot kill, from an arms length CQB engagement, out to conventional battle ranges, regardless of the availability of support weapons.
    We would be glad to hear your opinions:-
  2. Whilst not overly qualified to give full oppinion (scaley IT geek!!), i believe much of the decision to move to 5.56mm ammunition was for commanality with NATO allies?
  3. I don't know if I was quite as definitive as that, I just get the vague feeling sometimes that we obsess too much about "one shot - one kill" when we ought to be concentrating on "unload everything - kill them all".

    Maybe I'm missing the old Soviet Union - as we discussed before they saw personal weapons for keeping people's heads down while support weapons did the work. And they issued so many at very low levels - ironically enough, as a result of their experiences in Afghanistan. AGS-17, lightweight 82mm mortars, RPO, RPG-7 and others etc etc. Plus grenades. Not that it did them enough good to win though.
  4. Not wanting to take the thread too off topic, but if you look at the stats for Afghanistan, (a la US in Vietnam) the Sovs didn't really 'lose' Afghanistan. A war of attrition against a crazy-assed enemy is pretty tricky to win (something like 20000 Sovs dead to almost 1 mil Afghans).

    In addition, Sov operational freedom was severely hampered by their loss of the air (courtesy of the CIA's massive 'secret war') to hand-held SAMs, in particular STINGER.

    Now, have a look at our current Inf section, and it is increasingly bad-ass. 2 x minimi, 2 x LSW (let's not start the argument again), 2 x A2 with UGL, and 2 x A2. In addition, (and having seen and smiled at one last year) we appear to be in the process of acquiring an anti-structure munition. Bung on top WP, HE frag and LAW, and I'm sure you'd agree, we have a fairly potent mix.

    As to 5.56, yes, probably designed to wound, but anyone who has seen a wound where the bullet has hit anything but flesh would say that the individual was pretty much messed-up, as the round fragments and generally cuts about visiting vrious organs.

    And we still have the GPMG, for all of those 7.62mm nuts.

    Bottom line, 5.56 is considerably lighter (which means you can shoot a load more hoods, which is surely more suppressinve in the end - if you hit, but that's another story) and has more penetrating power (something to do with an energy type equation - pse correct me).

  5. Having served as an Instructor in the 70's at the School of Armour in New Zealand, worked with and drank with a lot of Vietnam vets, from the Aussie 6th Army (Aussie and Kiwi combined force), they had quite a remarkable record ,Ie Batle of Lon Ten etc (remarkable casualty figures),anyway the guys that had served there said on arrival they were issued with armourlites and 5.56, presumably for logistical reasons, however after a very short while they were demanding there SLR.s back and 7.62 (which they got), because they were finding lots of blood trails when they hit the enemy with 5.56 but very few bodies, when hit with 7.62 there body count actually increased considerably.

    Lesson when hit with 7.62 they went down and stayed down, the extra length and weight of weapon was a factor they were prepared to live with and accept because they got the job done much better.
  6. Is this the fuel-air thingy I've seen mentioned a few times of late? Belive the russians have a RPG round that we've been looking at for ideas...
  7. The russians, god bless them, have a whole host of FAE munitions. Ranging from 1 shot LAW type thingys called SCHMEL or the like, replacement warheads for RPG type weapons, all the way to MLRS warheads. Pity any of these bastards getting into the wrong hands.
    There is a bit about them on the Urban Ops pages in the Land warefare centre's website if you have access to the intranet.
  8. Oh yes, the Russians are seriously tooled up when it comes to FAE. They have two flavours of disposable rockets (RPO and RPO-A), replacement warheads for RPG-7 and most (if not all) ATGW - just screw off the HEAT and screw on a FAE. Then there's a full range of gravity weapons for helos and aircraft and rocket artillery rounds.

    My favourite though is the TOS - a T-72 chassis with an armoured box on top full of rockets with FAE warheads. It is used for direct fire suppression and was developed as a result of the Chechen experience.

    They also refer to the rounds as "thermobaric" if you see that term around.
  9. The more kit that we are given, to visit ruin and dismay upon the heads of the heathen, the better. However, no matter how exotic and lethal the ancilliaries may be, at some stage the footsoldier still has to close with and dispose of the individual enemy. Therefore my principle concern is still with the personal weapon carried by the infantryman.
    Having received a good number of reliable anecdotal accounts and having had a modest amount of personal experience in these matters, the consensus is that those who have been clobbered by larger calibre rounds (7mm +/-) , tend to go down and stay down more often that those hit by sub-calibre rounds (5mm +/-).
    Again, I make the point that a one shot kill is important, especially when you are up against an individual enemy who is hyped-up (suicidally inclined) and just keeps on coming, like the Moro warriors in the Phillipines. I believe that the 5.56 route has been a diversion, mainly fuelled by theoretical distortions caused by Vietnam and the Cold War. This sort of theory is fine but it should be kept firmly in its box when the men on the ground are dealing with the Faithful:- People who hunt wild boar do so with a heavy, broad bladed spear with a substantial cross-guard, just back of the blade; this stops the boar carrying on, right up the shaft, to gore the hunter.
    The 5.56mm round has been developed about as far as it can be; the SS109 bullet pattern is as heavy as it usefully can be, without increasing the overall length of the round, whereas there is still a lot of development potential left in the 7.62mm NATO/.308 Winchester.
    I know that a lot of folk point to the greater quantities of 5.56 ammunition that can be carried but, if the difference is squandered by multiple shots, where otherwise one shot would do, I know which I would rather carry.
    On the other hand it could just be that I'm a crabby, recalcitrant old git who still hankers after the brilliant .577/450 Martini... Now there was a Man-Stopper!
  10. It's worthwhile remembering that 5.56 NATO is a big improvement over the original 5.56 "as used by the Americans in Vietnam"......

    As for the "the bloke drops when hit with 7.62" argument, while it takes account of the bullet's effectiveness, it ignores the greater number of times that you run out of ammo, and the greater number of times that you miss (remember the sudden increase in APWT scores when SA80 came in?).

    In short, the Army still thinks that having more people, carrying twice as many bullets, who are more likely to hit the target per bullet, is worth the fact that the target concerned takes a few more seconds to bleed out.....

    As for one-shot-one-kill / "poodle shooter" effectiveness of 5.56, look at the fatality rates for the Washington sniper. Only slightly fewer deaths than victims (10/13 - see And I'm not sure that was even 5.56 NATO, and not its weaker cousin the 0.223 Remington.....

    The Americans are apparently putting a big wedge of cash into this 6.8mm manstopper; it appears that it is tailored to their "kicking in doors during CQB" mob, and I believe (but am willing to be proven wrong) that their tradeoff against a faster stop is increased weight and degraded accuracy compared with 5.56. That has implications for how your section fires effectively at 400m or more.....
  11. Good points Gravelbelly, I guess then that confidence in ones equipment and ammo must also be taken into account, lot of difference between a Range day and actually combat, wouldnt you say?
  12. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    This has long been a favourite argument of mine.

    If anyone in my section could hit anything with 7.62 SLR then 1 shot 1 kill would be fine, sadly they were all too busy running out of ammo locating the enemy in the bushes, supressing him in his trench or shooting with the sights on the wrong setting (SLR iron sights were a bitch!).

    The introduction of the IW/LWS has raised shooting standards and of course the addition of three times the amount of ammunition for the same weight seems to be perfectly reasonable trade off for the number of times that somebody would shout "ammo resup!"

    I suspect a lot of the 5.56 ability was degraded in Asia by the foliage and tumble issues of the old 5.56 rounds. As I recall each squad had an M60 anyway... so perhaps there weren't really all those blood trails that the stories tell....

    If it went to the vote I'd take 5.56 for myself. Likewise our SF guys (Royal Marines too) had been humping M16's for years before we switched to SA80 and I suspect they knew what they were doing.
  13. Perhaps you chaps should have a look at Janes Defence Weekly back issues.

    A dead similar debate is raging currently, over future weapon calibres!

    Some HK 4.3mm exotic caseless jobby and some other equally exotic calibre like 6.9 or 7....(i'm not a gun head - but the politics and ethics debate is dragging on - just like it took to standardise NATO 5.56!)

    It took forever to resolve this, but the underlying point is the round is designed to wound, thus tying up more people in the military infrastructure.

    I could be wrong - i'm sure all those inf people will post if so!

    I do special flying 'thingies' - Not that I could ever tell you about it.
  14. Aye, kill one of 'em and thats them out of the game. Wound one and tie two others up with recovery, who then become wounded themselves and pretty soon you've got a lot of people unable to fight.
  15. Operator - You got it!

    Unless you own a "Phased Plasma Rifle in the 40 Watt range".....
    (To quote: The Terminator)

    Then you can zap the 2 medics and the entire helicopter used to evac the poor sap out of there...

    Won't be long till they re-issue all those recycled SMGs that the Imperial Empire converted to lasers as in Star Wars!