USMC dump Minimi in favour of..... LSW??!!

Discussion in 'Weapons, Equipment & Rations' started by freedomman, Jul 2, 2010.

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  1. There was another thread a while back but I'm buggered if I can find it...

    Back to the BAR

    The Marine Corps will field its new, lightweight auto rifle this fall to five combat battalions preparing for war-zone deployments.

    Commandant Gen. James T. Conway gave Corps officials the green light in April to issue approximately 450 M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles, enough to replace every M249 squad automatic weapon in four infantry battalions and one light armored reconnaissance battalion.

    The limited fielding is a final test to find out if the Heckler & Koch-made weapon performs as well in an operational environment as it has in testing, said Charles Clark III, who oversees infantry weapons requirements at the Corps' Combat Development and Integration office at Quantico, Va.

    "The battlefield test will be a verification of what we have already established through extensive operational testing," Clark said. "We want to get a user assessment prior to full-rate production."

    Conway's decision comes despite his past concerns about replacing the M249 with a magazine-fed automatic rifle. His main worry is whether the M27's light weight and accuracy will be enough to make up for the loss of suppressive firepower Marine gunners will give up when they go into battle without the belt-fed M249.

    Program officials acknowledge that a 30-round magazine cannot produce the high volume of fire the M249 is capable of when loaded with a 200-round belt. The Corps is considering high-capacity magazines that can hold 50 or 100 rounds of 5.56mm ammo, but Marines that deploy with this first batch of IARs will carry only 30-round magazines.

    "The initial limited fielding will not include a high-capacity ammunition source, but that remains an option," Clark said, explaining that such magazines will have to undergo a separate round of testing.

    The M27, a variant of the H&K 416, weighs just 7.9 pounds, unloaded. By comparison, the M249 weighs 17 pounds, unloaded.

    Marines involved in operational testing at Twentynine Palms, Calif.; Fort McCoy, Wis.; and Camp Shelby, Miss., were "very comfortable with it because it's a lot like a M16A4 and it's far more maneuverable and portable" than the M249, Clark said. "The H&K gun has performed very well throughout operational testing."

    Marine officials selected the H&K weapon in October over two prototypes from Colt Defense LLC and one made by FN Herstal. (Colt makes the M4 and FN makes the M249.) The M27 uses a short-stroke gas piston, which proved more reliable than the M16/M4's direct gas system in an Army dust test in late 2007.

    The new IAR, which fires from the closed-bolt position, is most effective when employed as a point-target weapon, program officials maintain.

    "The accuracy has been a real standout," Clark said. "The IAR has demonstrated to be a far more accurate gun" than the M249, which fires from the open-bolt position.

    In the defensive role, the M27 used "far less" ammunition to drop the same number of targets compared to the M249, Clark said.

    Program officials maintain that the increased accuracy will compensate for the M27's slower, sustained rate of fire. Unlike the M249, the new IAR doesn't have a spare barrel that can be switched out to prevent overheating. Marine gunners will have to keep their sustained rate of fire at 65 rounds per minute compared to the M249's 85 rounds per minute.

    "It has a little bit lower sustained rate of fire, but it's far more accurate," Clark said.

    The Corps hopes to begin fielding the M27s in November so Marine units have "four to six months" to train with their new weapons.

    "We are not sending these guns straight to Afghanistan," Clark said. "The units that are participating will have the guns long before they go into theater."

    Each company in the three active infantry battalions and one reserve infantry battalion will receive 28 M27s, one for every SAW gunner and one extra to remain organic to the unit. These companies will also retain six M249s to give commanders more firepower if necessary, Clark said.

    The LAR battalion will receive 14 M27s per company and will not retain any M249s

    The Corps plans on buying 4,476 M27s and reducing its number of M249s from 10,000 to approximately 8,000, Marine officials said.

    But that adjustment will not happen until Conway sees the results from the user assessment, Clark said, adding that it could be late next summer before the feedback is collected from theater.

    Marine Corps requirements officials hope that Conway will decide whether to take the weapon into full-rate production by late 2011.

    "We are confident that the gun we have tested is a good gun, but the final decision rests with the commandant of the Marine Corps," Clark said.

    The mind fcuking boggles.
  2. Bravo USMC, you've just fielded the M16A1, Again.
  3. That must be some black propaganda to Terry, surely? The septics really cannot be that thick! Surely to frick someone from the Corps will frag that idiot of a Commandant for gross idiocy?

  4. Officially the IAR is supposed to replace the capability that the USMC lost when the BAR went out of service. And yes - they really were inspired by the LSW.

    I once saw an amused USMC officer (who went on to write the original IAR requirement) listen to a long winded explanation from a British officer on our definition of 'suppression' using the LMG.

    His response? "That's all fine, but why wouldn't you just kill him instead?"

    On the other hand, there is a conspiracy theory that this is just a back door attempt by the USMC to get a piston driven weapon into service that could eventually replace their M16s.
  5. I don't see anything wrong with the IAR as a weapon, nor the LSW - in the role they are good at (a more accurate, further reaching version of the IW, with parts, ammo and training commonality that can also be used as an IW is when push comes to shove - like a 'Sharpshooter'-lite, more all-rounder rifle if you will).

    However, an MG it ain't. Throw in an LSW/IAR per section if you want to for your best shots, but replacing LMG/SAW with it? Try selling that to the infanteers! If anything I thought we were up-gunning to having GPMGs within the section (and 7.62 sharpshooters, as the US already has procured, rather than 5.56) de facto, so going the opposite way ain't too inspired.
  6. I agree. Expecting an IAR to do the same job as a BAR (or an LSW as a Bren Gun), is just asking too much of the calibre.

    And whatever replaces the GPMG will have to be really very good!
  7. Does it need replacing with a different type, why not just re-manufacture them?
  8. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    Could it be anything to do with trying to counter the septic propensity to spray, and spray, and spray, and spray, and maybe pray an ickle bit?

    They sure get through an awful lot of ammo . . . .
  9. I know what you mean, but replacing an LMG with a rifle in the same calibre and with the same mag capacity as all the other section rifles is taking the learning point a bit far.

    JJ will no doubt correct me, but USMC sections are bigger and expected to operate differently to our concepts aren't they?
  10. Seems like a hell of a mistake to me. Functionally it is the same as all the other rifles in the section. It may have a bipod and a better sight but otherwise it will be much the same from an effects point of view, just as LSW doesn't do anything that L85 doesn't, certainly nothing that L85 with a bipod doesn't do.
  11. 13 men to a section, 3 fireteams of 4 and a squad leader. When the subject of losing the Minimi first came up the USMC basically said what you just did and that they reckoned the weight of fire would be fine.
  12. mattyw

    mattyw Old-Salt Reviewer

    What about the barrels ? Would they melt under sunstaned fire?
  13. I don't get this, we've moved to a squad based on more belt fed weapons, and they're moving away from it. I mean the last time I saw an 8 man squad weapons fit described it was 2x SA8- A2 with UGL, 2x SA80, 2x MINIMI, 2x GPMG, and that was before the new DMR came in (replacing one of the standard A2s I guess). Sounds like a major backstep in firepower to me, I could maybe understand swapping their DMR M-14s for a select fire 7.62 mag fed weapon, but to ditch belt fed 5.56 for magazine fed, when we've shown it's not a great idea seem like lunacy.
  14. There is an, old, article which explains some of the thinking behind the weapon switch.