New Zealand Defence Force is switching from the 5.56mm FN Minimi to the 7.62mm FN Minimi as their standard Light Support Weapon (LSW).
This continues the general trend across the globe of moving away from the 5.56mm round for everything but assault rifles. The latest generation 7.62mm machine guns are only slightly heavier than their 5.56mm counterparts (the 7.62mm Minimi weighs only a few pounds more than the 5.56mm version). The tradeoff is ammunition capacity. A 7.62x51mm cartridge weighs about twice as much as a 5.56x45mm cartridge, therefor a solider will only be able to carry half as much of it.
The Army said in a press release …
The NZ Defence Force procured 600 weapons from manufacturer, FN Herstal with an approximate cost of $15,000 per weapon. The total budget for the project was $16.04 million and included procuring all ancillaries, storage facilities, and simulation training measures required for a successful introduction into service.
Personnel from across the Defence Force required to train soldiers, sailors and airmen in the use of the weapon completed their own training in November 2012. The weapon will now be phased into service across the NZ Defence Force and this is expected to be completed within the first quarter of 2013.
“The delivery of 7.62mm LSW is another positive step forward for ISWRUP, which will replace or upgrade selected weapon systems, ancillary equipment and specialist munitions within the NZDF weapons fleet.
Many thanks to Whale Oil for the tip.