GPMG - Replace, enhance or leave well enough alone?

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#1
The GPMG has been in service for over 30 years and could remain so until 2020. Although it is tried and tested, it is beginning to show its age in terms of performance, reliability and maintainability. There is clearly a requirement for a weapon system or systems to achieve the current target effect or better, so - bearing in mind the wide variety of roles it is currently used in across the 3 services - what is the future (new weapon(s), ammo, enhancements)?

(and yes, this is a project I've been set - but I presumed that there are sufficient spotters on here who like making their views known in public, and it is a fairly interesting topic.)
 
#2
napier said:
The GPMG has been in service for over 30 years and could remain so until 2020. Although it is tried and tested, it is beginning to show its age in terms of performance, reliability and maintainability. There is clearly a requirement for a weapon system or systems to achieve the current target effect or better, so - bearing in mind the wide variety of roles it is currently used in across the 3 services - what is the future (new weapon(s), ammo, enhancements)?

(and yes, this is a project I've been set - but I presumed that there are sufficient spotters on here who like making their views known in public, and it is a fairly interesting topic.)
If the Spams have just replaced the M60 with the M240 (read L7 GPMG), why?

http://www.olive-drab.com/od_other_firearms_mg_m240.php3

Imho, either buy new ones, supplemented by .50 HMG's (to 'reach out and touch somebody') or buy the MG3 (MG42 in 7.62mm)
 
#3
One good thing with the M60 was a ? Stelite barrel: could take many more rouds than that of the GPMG before it needed changing.

Makes sense to me.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#4
Bravo_Bravo said:
One good thing with the M60 was a ? Stelite barrel: could take many more rouds than that of the GPMG before it needed changing.

Makes sense to me.
Herstal managed to knock out stellite liners for the bbls on the MAG, for some reason the British engineers could never master this.
 
#5
Bravo_Bravo said:
One good thing with the M60 was a ? Stelite barrel: could take many more rouds than that of the GPMG before it needed changing.

Makes sense to me.
Trouble with the 60 was that the bipod was attached to the barrel. Needed a mitt as well to replace the barrel. Agreed on stelite barrels:
http://www.special-operations-technology.com/article.cfm?DocID=672
new barrel technology developed by FNH. “The stelite metal lining the barrel means the barrel life is good for 12,000 rounds,”
New FN Mags with Stelite barrels?
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#6
One of the ways I'm thinking is that I need to look at the target effect required/desired in each role (e.g. light role - defeat CRISAT man at 600m, SF - as above at 1100m, LLAD - scare pilots, etc.) and see whether 1 weapon can acheive all required effects. The main issue with the GPMG is that it is General Purpose - i.e. too heavy for a section weapon and too light for true sustained fire. I will be visiting all the usual suspects (DInf FD Branch, ITDU, dstl, etc) for the operational requirements and technical stuff anyway - but some informed gut feeling is always good. I'm fully aware of the logistic advantages of 1 weapon for lots of jobs, but for the purpose of this I want to look at all options.
 
#7
napier said:
One of the ways I'm thinking is that I need to look at the target effect required/desired in each role (e.g. light role - defeat CRISAT man at 600m, SF - as above at 1100m, LLAD - scare pilots, etc.) and see whether 1 weapon can acheive all required effects. The main issue with the GPMG is that it is General Purpose - i.e. too heavy for a section weapon and too light for true sustained fire. I will be visiting all the usual suspects (DInf FD Branch, ITDU, dstl, etc) for the operational requirements and technical stuff anyway - but some informed gut feeling is always good. I'm fully aware of the logistic advantages of 1 weapon for lots of jobs, but for the purpose of this I want to look at all options.
Bren gun
Vickers MMG
Bofors 40mm

:wink:
 
#9
Either buy some new MAGs, or buy MG3s with heavier bolts to keep the rate of fire down to something more managable (i.e. get it down from 1200 to 800 rpm). The MG3 is also a significantly cheaper beast than the MAG, and is much simpler (no separate gas system, for instance). You do need a glove for the hot barrel though, since it falls out the side & has no handle.

If you're also considering the possibility of going back to more 'diverse' wpns as opposed to a GPMG, howsabout this:

Updated L4 LMG made with as much alloy & stampings as possible at section level LMG (unless troops are happy with the MINIMI's knockdown & long-range performance in the LMG role)
MAG/MG3 in SF role as MMG
Browning HMG

Just my twopenn'orth
 
#10
If you're staying with 7.62, then bringing the weight down too far would screw up the accuracy as the Aussies, Canucks & Israelis found out with the FN FALO.
The FN MAG has lots of supporters, so why not "improve the breed" rather than start from scratch?
 
#11
Haven't come across a better GPMG than the MAG, and I take the "half full" view that its "light enough for a section weapon, and heavy enough for SF". My own personal experience is that on ops nobody, but nobody, complains about lugging a MAG, if its a choice between that and a 5.56mm as support weapon.

I think it'd be a serious error to contemplate replacing the MAG with a mix of "light" and "heavy" MGs, mainly because in the cheapskate British Army, you'd simply never achieve a weapon establishment to match the flexibility of the MAG. Can you seriously imagine the MoD giving you two sets of weapons: "well today its VCP, so we'll take the SF 50 cal, and tomorrow we're on patrol, so we'll take the Minimis instead"?!

In fact, the only reason the British Army has issues of "maintenence & reliability" is because it is flogging to death 30-year old weapons which clearly have a finite service life, instead of buying new replacements in good time. Q: Why did the SLR end its days with a reputation as a rattly, inaccurate & unreliable rifle? A: Because they were nearly 40 years old and had been rebuilt several times each on average.

Whilst the GPMG/MAG is fine as a weapon, the real root issue is probably the current problem with the service ammo mix: most nations seem to try a 5.56 LSW or GPMG of some kind, before reverting to ..... the 7.62mmm MAG. Maybe if/when the US does another unilateral rifle ammo change to 6.8mm or whatever, then maybe a 6.8mm MG coming in at a lighter weight than the current MAG will give give sufficient firepower to be the new GPMG of choice.
 
#14
On what scale is the GPMG issued in the Infantry today ie. how many per platoon/company/battalion? I thought it was two per rifle platoon but I have read conflicting reports. Does it vary between light role and mech? Is there still a MG platoon in light inf battalions?
 
#15
GPMG trialed 'live' during the Radfan dust-up by Para Bn. Used butter when oil ran out and it worked a treat. Still burnt my hand on barrell change tho! - careless! Been in use 40 years!
 
#16
There's no need to Change what aint Broke. Lets replace the worn out gimpy's and A novel idea for the MOD, BUY NEW ONES :roll:. The Mg design is from WWII era although slightly modernised.
 
#17
It is a lovely tool, agree with the above buy new ones

Bit of a pain to lug about but it does do exactly what it says on the tin..........

Given recent history of introducing new weapons why bugger about with something that does the job well?
 
#18
For a while now it's been rumoured that the spams are trialling the old British experimental calibre of .280, if there is any truth in this rumour surely MOD need a re think on future policy regarding NATO calibre's and the way forward.
This country always seem to have to take America's lead when it comes to calibre's, having said that I am not convinced we had it right when we trialled 4.85mm!
 
#19
My all-time favourite- haven't found anything to beat it.

About the only gripes I can think of are (and this is real nit-picking):- the gas regulator- bloody awkward to alter when hot and fiddling to work on; the bipod- too fragile; the top cover/feed mech- again, too fragile.

Most of the time these bits are fine but, having seen them from both sides, as a gunner and as an armourer, I'd feel happier if the materials were a bit more 'repairable' or a redesign rendered them less prone to damage. It's a horrible feeling to open the top cover, to clear a stoppage, only to have the feed pawls drop out into the mud!

Nothing else seems to be a problem, save a tendency for some folks to believe that 'faster is better'. Faster just b*ggers up the recoil buffer washers, wastes ammo that you can't afford to waste and impresses nobody, least of all those who know what a well balanced gun in the hands of a capable gunner can do!...

Sorry, ranting on a bit, but the 'go faster' types really grip my sh*t, having had to repair b*ggered-up recoil buffers, raise MN&Ds for washed out barrels, etc; all because some bone-head gets a hard-on and thinks a fast gun sounds good!
Aaaaaargh!
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#20
The project is now done and dusted, so thanks for the input of all those who helped. The project covered a lot of ground; including development, threat, ROE, ballistics, FCS, enhancements and alternatives but, in summary, we concluded:

Roles
· A full threat study, based on geographical and weapon/platform data, be conducted for all current and likely operational theatres in order to inform any further capability study.
· A full user capability study of in-service weapons be conducted across all three services in order to refine the use of small arms weapons systems in accordance with their true capabilities and limitations and to address the resultant capability gaps.
· A multi-user system of weapon classification is established and modelled and the results promulgated in order to educate the user/operator and thus inform more effective force packaging.
· It is recommended that the current roles filled by the GPMG be divided into the 3 roles Light, Medium and Heavy identified in this project.

Target Study
· It is recommended that a review be conducted into the specifications of the modern target and these be made widely available to the user community.

Ammunition
· It is recommended that the L40 A1 round be adopted as the standard round for military use.

Light Role
· It is recommended that the LSW be adopted as the standard system for the Light Role. The system should be improved with an extended capacity magazine and a lightweight, low cost II sight with a minimum identification range of 500m.

Medium Role
· It is recommended that the GPMG be retained in the medium role. Improvements in lethality must be made by adoption of the L40 A1 round as standard. The system will require an improved TI sight and integral LRF with a minimum identification range of 1000m.

Heavy Role
· It is recommended that the Mk.19 AGL with an integrated TI/II FCS be procured to fill the Heavy Role working in conjunction with an improved GPMG (SF) incorporating improved sights. It is further recommended that the future solution be the procurement of the XM307 and XM312 to fill both of these roles, fitted with an appropriate FCS and GPS assisted ballistic computer for engagements beyond the line of sight.

Research and Trials
· It is recommended that further trialling of all systems be conducted to validate the recommendations made in this project. Trialling should take the form of computer modelling using the CAEN system and live firing to validate the lethality ranges stated in this project.
· Further research and trialling on the L40 A1 Round is required to give accurate data on armour penetration and incapacitation against all targets.

Note: These are the views of the project team only and are not officially sanctioned.
 

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