US Army to Create Lightweight .50 Caliber Machine Gun (Again)

M2_-_24th_MEU

The US Army has begun a program to create a lightweight .50 caliber machine gun to replace the venerable M2 Browning. The program will, like the M240L machine gun, use titanium to reduce weight by 20-30 percent. Scout.com and NationalInterest.org both have stories on the subject. The following is from Scout.com:

The Army is creating a new, lightweight version of its iconic .50-cal machine gun designed to better enable Soldiers to destroy enemies, protect convoys, mount weapons on vehicles, attack targets on the move and transport between missions.

The new weapon, engineered to be 20-to-30 percent lighter than the existing M2, will be made of durable, but lighter weight titanium, Army officials said.

The emerging lightweight .50-cal, described as still in its infancy stage, still needs to be built, riveted and tested.

The parts for the titanium prototypes will be built at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. and then go to Anniston Army Depot, Ala., for riveting and further construction.

“We always want to lighten the soldier load. A major requirement is to engineer a 60-pound weapon compared to an 86-pound weapon,” Laura Battista, Product Management Engineer, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The Army plans to have initial prototypes of the new lightweight .50-cal built by this coming summer as a preparatory step to release a formal Request For Proposal, or RFP, to industry in the first quarter of 2017, Alessio said. An acquisition contract is expected several months after the RFP is released.

“We are looking to test this summer,” he said.

The lighter weight weapon will bring additional an additional range of mission sets for Soldiers who will be better able to transport, mount and fire the weapon against enemies.

“If you are a top gunner and you are having to move this weapon around – it is on a pedestal tripod. If it is lighter, you are going to be able to traverse the weapon a little bit easier than a 20-pound heavier weapon. That is one of the added benefits as far as getting it on and off the vehicle. If a soldier can do that by himself that is an added benefit,” Alessio said.

Future .50-cal Innovations

The Army’s .50-cal program is also looking at a longer-term project to engineer a lighter weight caseless ammunition which will reduce the amount of brass needed, he added.

Further into the future, the service will also create requirements for a new externally-mounted weapon to replace both the M2 .50-cal machine gun and the Mk19 grenade launcher.

“This will be one weapon with a totally different new type of ammo that is not yet even in the developmental phase,” Alessio explained.

Aside from improving the weapon itself, the Army will also embark upon a simultaneous excursion to develop a lighter profile barrel.

“We will have many barrels that will lessen the logistic burden of having a spare barrel all the time. We are also hoping to save a lot of weight. We are hoping to save 16-pounds off of a 26-pound barrel,” Alessio said.

In addition, the Army plans to engineer a laser rangefinder, new optics and fire control technology for the .50-cal. Alessio said a new, bigger machine-gun mounted optic will likely be put on the gun within the next five years.

Finally, within five to ten years, the Army plans to have some kind of fire control technology added to the .50-cal; this will improve the accuracy of the weapon an increase its effective range by incorporating ballistic calculations such as the round’s trajectory through the air to target, Alessio explained.

This is hardly the first time anyone has tried to replace the venerable “Ma Deuce”, either. Probably the first time was as early as 1939, when the Army issued a requirement for an anti-tank rifle and machine gun with more penetrating power, to counter the tanks of the era. This resulted in the ultimately unsuccessful T17 machine gun, which had it seen service would have been roughly the equivalent of the later Soviet 14.5mm machine guns in common service today.

One of the most successful (though still ultimately failed) attempts to replace the M2 came in the 1950s with the M85 machine gun, which saw use on the M60 Main Battle Tank, but ultimately was retired and replaced with the M2 itself! In the 1980s, Fabrique Nationale designed a 15.5mm machine gun to replace the M2 and to match and exceed the Soviet 14.5mm machine gun in performance, but the project was unsuccessful and nearly bankrupt the Belgian arms manufacturer (on the other end of the size scale, the humble P90 PDW helped resuscitate the company).

The two latest attempts to replace the M2 were the XM312, a lightweight, long-recoiling .50 BMG machine gun derived from the 25mm XM307 ACSW (and which was originally intended just as a test bed for that larger-caliber weapon), and the XM806 LW50MG. Both of these were cancelled, despite each being half the weight of the M2.

What both the XM312 and XM806 programs found is that there is a serious contradiction in having a lightweight .50 caliber machine gun, especially one that compromises the performance of the weapon in some way. Automatic weapons in this caliber, due to their massively heavy ammunition, virtually cannot be used as dismounted weapons, and must be used mounted to either a vehicle, aircraft, or tripod. As a result, the benefits of lightening the weapons even substantially does not create a major improvement in usability for the weapons, although it may seriously increase convenience for the soldiers who have to move the weapon from mount to storage space and back. Even with lightweight cased ammunition, a .50 caliber machine gun will still suffer from this problem. I suspect that the use of an expensive titanium receiver for weapons of this type will prove to be a poor tradeoff, especially since the weight savings is significantly less than that of either the XM312 or XM806.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Ed

    Two predictions either we end up with a titanium M-2 HB or another ten+ million dollar program which will flop like the last several small arm program the idiots in the army pentagon staff try to pull.

    • oldman

      Or A titanium M2 that costs 100K a copy.

    • Kivaari

      I remember a “Dover Devil” lightweight .50. I guess that went nowhere over 30 years ago.

      • roguetechie

        The dover devil was amazing

  • Suppressed

    Brought to you by the people that can’t even replace a handgun…

    • Major Tom

      Or a rifle.

      • Kivaari

        The M4 is great. The M2HB is heavy at about 85 pounds. I had my hand on the field safe when an M2 slipped off a pile. I lost that finger nail. It is a great gun as is.

        • jcitizen

          Ouch! Some of my troopers almost lost a finger or two releasing the bolt with their fingers in the barrel carrier. Quick reactions save the day.

          • Kivaari

            It hurt enough that I yelled, swear words deleted”.

    • aka_mythos

      There is a difference between inability and unwillingness.

      • Martin M

        Nope. It’s inability. These are bureaucrats who will spend a fortune on the front end with planning and such, but won’t ever produce anything but crap.

        F-22 20+ year lead time and billions spent. Result = crap
        F-35 20+ year lead time and billions spent. Result = crap
        Zumwalt cruiser/destroyer with decades of lead time and billions spent. Result = we’ll only buy 3.
        RAH-66 Ditto and dead.
        Every small arms program. Ditto and dead.

        They’re imbeciles. They need to be fired. They bungle everything.

        • NukeItFromOrbit

          F-22 wasn’t crap, and eventually the F-35 will be what it is originally planned to be (replacement for F-16, F/A-18 and AV-8) but trying to have it do so much more than that is typical Washington stupidity.

          • DW

            Never forget what became of the Bradley

          • tts

            Blame the Marines actually. “Washington” also didn’t insist on concurrency which has been responsible for blowing out the costs in a big way, that was LockMart, though “Washington” (Congress) idd want it built across as many states as possible as a pork spending project which guaranteed it would never be the “cheap bomb truck” it was pitched as.

            Anyways though, the Marines are the ones who insisted on VTOL capability + early IOC. The VTOL requirements are what really screwed the F35’s airframe permanently and the early IOC guarantees it’ll be a barely working collection of even more expensive problems for probably nearly a decade.

            The F22 was crap for a long time BTW. It eventually became a good plane but it took a hell of a lot of money and time for the bugs to get ironed out. It still has big maintenance problems though. If they haven’t fixed that yet they probably never will.

          • Phil Hsueh

            The F-35 wasn’t the Corps’ fault, at least not all of it. While it’s true that the Corps wanted a STOVL aircraft for replacing the Harrier it wasn’t the fault of the Corps that it got incorporated into the F-35 design. That blames falls on the DoD who thought that it would be a brilliant idea to try to get 3 distinct aircraft from a common airframe since the Navy, Air Force, and Marines all needed new aircraft at the same time. After all, it worked with the Phantom right? If anybody in the DoD had any common sense the F-35 program would have been split into 2 distinct programs with one for the Navy and the Air Force and then a completely separate one for the Corps to replace the Harrier.

          • tts

            No they did insist on it. I’m not linking it since it’d be tied up in moderation but Marine leadership went on record multiple times and its all trivial to google up now.

          • Phil Hsueh

            Insisted on what? The F-35 be STOVL or that the F-35 be a Joint program? Because while the Corps did want a STOVL replacement for the Harrier they didn’t want the F-35, or more specifically the JSF, nobody wanted it, that was all the SecDef forcing it down everybody’s throats because he thought that it would be such a good idea that all 3 branches shared a common airframe even when the 3 branches had differing requirements and needs.

          • tts

            For the F35 to have VTOL. It had to be a joint program or it never would’ve been OK’d by Congress and VTOL was the price that had to be paid for the Marines support.

          • Martin M

            You are correct. Any aircraft that costs $200 million a copy that kills pilots by oxygen deprivation is fantastic in my book. NOT
            The lead time was it’s undoing. Technology advanced several times, requiring serious reworks which cost a fortune in time and money. By the time it became operational, opposition radar systems were well under way to negating any stealth capabilities. The avionics and engines are advanced, but those sorts of components are not airframe specific.

            Remember, Kelly Johnson put the A-12/SR-71 from paper to prototype in just 7 years, WITH SLIDERULES!

          • NukeItFromOrbit

            F/A-18s have encountered similar problems with their oxygen system, just no deaths luckily. F-14s suffered dozens of crashes from engine failures. The first production F-16s earned a reputation as “lawn darts” due to all of the accidents in their first years of service. Shall I go on?

            Do you damn an entire aircraft when a subsystem fails? Despite these problems (which seem to have been fixed) the F-22 will still be the world’s most capable air-superiority fighter for the foreseeable future.

            There is no doubt that the A-12/SR-71 had very impressive raw performance but it still didn’t meet some requirements, it suffered from a high accident rate which would be unacceptable today, had far simpler avionics (which is where most of the difficult is encountered these days) and didn’t have to go through nearly the same sort of DoD bureaucracy that any project today faces.

            You want things to go faster? First of all you’d have to fix the bureaucracy and then fix the general computer programming incompetence the government, DoD, and their contractors suffer from.

            Radar developments do not negate simple physics. An object with larger radar cross section will always be detected before an object with a small one. The small radar cross section is more easily concealed by electronic-warfare (jamming).

          • Martin M

            Yes, I do damn the whole aircraft. I was pretty close to it and the people involved in it’s development and testing. They regularly flew over my home. It’s never going to be more than a silver bullet.

            It’s biggest single problem is that it was never produced in quantities that will provide serious corrections to it’s problems. It’ll never achieve economy of scale, and improvements will all be excessively expensive band-aids. Worse yet is the unit cost, which was a 10x increase over current inventory aircraft. I’d rather have 100 F-15s than 10 F-22s. Hull losses seriously degrade the fleet. Minor issues with a few aircraft just crush the Mission Capable Rate. Fewer airframes means more hours, and earlier depot level work. The same goes for overall operational capability. There just aren’t enough aircraft to cover all threats. The program should have been scrapped and restarted.
            The USN has the same problems with it’s fleet being run too hard because there are too few ships to cover the mission. LCS was supposed to alleviate the problem, but they’re going the way of the Bradly and the whole idea is just being ruined.
            Which brings me back to my original assertion, the people at the top are incapable of getting things done.

          • MRHapla

            does a lot, none of it well

        • MPWS

          Word of wisdom from mother Mary; congrats!
          Inability is simply… irreplaceable. No matter how much money you throw on it.

        • MRHapla

          The SR-71 Blackbird,,,idea in 1957, design start in Spring 1958 , first flight Spring 1964, operational 1966, unstoppable until 1999.

          It can be done.

    • Kivaari

      “Army Times” (AF Times, Marine Times, Navy Times) just ran an article on his idea of buying Glock 19s. It makes absolute sense. The G19 will do the job. A G17 is slightly larger and harder to conceal, but the G19 will pack well. I’d take either.

  • Cal.Bar

    Do soldiers actually physically carry the M2 anymore? Seems to me they are ONLY mounted on vehicles. What’s the point of spending millions to knock 20 or 30 pounds off an MG that is only going to be mounted on a vehicle anyway.

    • Mystick

      Indeed. The ammo allowance for a position using this gun far outweighs the gun itself…

    • Major Tom

      I remember the field manual saying you can carry it on patrol but realistically nobody does when it can literally be slapped onto anything with wheels or tracks.

      • El Duderino

        It’s more a method of punishment than good tactics anymore. “Oh, you want to sleep at the range? Okay…we’re going to carry the fifties back. You, grab a barrel. You, grab a receiver, You, grab a tripod.” Etc.

        Kind of like the TOW. Sure, you can lug it around, but it takes 8 guys and if they’re carrying their regular gear, you’re not going far, fast.

    • AmmoMFG (Drew)

      someone still has to put it up on the top of the vehicle

    • aka_mythos

      Who’s to say they’ll still only be mounted on vehicles 10 years from now?

    • GaryOlson

      Those new fuel efficiency standards from the EPA for military vehicles are a real PITA. You can’t reduce the armor, engine, or number of crew; so the weight reductions have to come from the weapons and ammunition. I also look forward to the solid lithium bullets with the LED nose — a tracer in every round.

    • RocketScientist

      ““If you are a top gunner and you are having to move this weapon around – it is on a pedestal tripod. If it is lighter, you are going to be able to traverse the weapon a little bit easier than a 20-pound heavier weapon.”

      From the article above, that you apparently failed to read (or comprehend). So the soldier needing to slew his gun over 180* to face a threat will be able to do so more quickly and with less error due to decreased mass.

      • David Harmon

        Dude, no one is firing these things from isolated positions where you have to cover your 6. No one. They are all mounted on trucks or at gates to be used as anti-material weapons.

        • RocketScientist

          I am well aware of the use case for this weapon. It evend etails it further in the main article:

          “The machine gun is currently used on Humvees, tactical trucks, M1 Abrams tanks, Strykers, some Navy ships and several aircraft such as CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters and UH-60 Black Hawks. The gun can also be mounted on a tripod on the ground by infantry in a firefight or combat circumstance”

          Many of those cases are ones where the gunner may need to rapidly change orientation to engage his target. Maybe thats because hes on top of a tank during maneuvers and has targets on both sides of the tank. Or maybe its a single stationary target, but the platform he’s firing from is moving, requiring him to change his relative point of aim. Lots of reasons that require the gunner to physically move the gun around. even in a powered turret, reduced mass will eman the actuator system will be able to get there quicker, with more accuracy in final position (less overshoot, etc) due to decreased mass/inertia.

          • David Harmon

            The powered turrets are slow by design.

            The Infantry will very rarely fire outside of it’s designated field of fire with it.

            There is no reason to lighten this thing, it’s a waste of money. I am saying this as a person whom has mounted/unmounted it to many vehicles hundreds of times.

          • RocketScientist

            Ah, so in one of the many applications for it, they will “rarely” need to take advantage of this proposed improvement. As a result its completely pointless. Nevermind that all the OTHER applications might have need for it. Got it. I’m sure you came to this brilliant conclusion after a thorough months-long multi-factorial study into the cost-benefit relationship of reduced weight across all its applications. Or I guess maybe you might just be some current/ex grunt who is about as much of an expert on weapons design and logistics as my mechanic is on automotive engineering and machine design for assembly.

          • David Harmon

            No, I came to my conclusion having been in the Infantry and had one assigned to my truck.

          • RocketScientist

            So exactly what I said then: “Or I guess maybe you might just be some current/ex grunt who is about as much of an expert on weapons design and logistics as my mechanic is on automotive engineering and machine design for assembly.”

            Its almost like there might be more to the design, logistics, and deployment of a weapon that’s used by multiple branches of service in multiple different applications than “Me pick up heavy. Me put heavy on truck.”

          • David Harmon

            Actually, I know how the weapons are actually used, so that makes me more of an authority on what needs to be done with them than any weapons designer.

            Dropping weight on the M2 is a waste of money.

            Thanks for displaying how low your regard is for the people actually using these tools in combat though. It makes it very clear that you’re not interested in an honest conversation, just being “right” in your own mind.

          • jcitizen

            I know if I had the new light weight one on my aircraft, I could carry just that much more ammo, and still lift off – that is where it would shine.

          • David Harmon

            I agree, in ground serve though. It’s a waste. Anywhere we used a .50 on the ground the weight made it easier to fire accurately. The only time it’s mobilized is on the ground is on a vehicle where the weight means nothing.

    • Kivaari

      I think they get packed from a vehicle only when setting them up in defensive positions. No one should expect grunts to pack a disassembled M2HB while patrolling. Like the Mk19 40mm launcher or a TOW. Nice to have around a base or vehicle mounted.

      • jcitizen

        I always wished I had the original web mount back pack for the M2 – it could take the receiver and the tripod slung on your back, then you carried the barrel and ammo with the now free hands. They must be ultra rare, even though I’ve seen them in fairly modern manuals.

    • n0truscotsman

      I disagree.

      If you can field a lighter MG without sacrificing much in terms of durability and reliability, you should do so.

      Infantry have a lot to gain from a comparatively lightweight 12.7mm HMG.

  • Mystick

    Do we have a lot of units humping around M2’s on their backs? I just don’t see this expenditure being worth the weight savings on what is primarily a vehicle, or at minimum bunker-mounted weapon…

  • Gjert Klakeg Mulen

    The Russians already did this. The KORD. 25.5 kg /56.22 lbs for the standard infantry version. It can also be used with a bipod if need be:

    • Anonymoose

      And it can be fired offhand!

    • tts

      If I remember correctly they had to lighten the barrel so much it heats up and looses lots of accuracy within a few shots.

      Still, a very impressive piece of engineering that was developed and implemented by a country that spends far less than the US does on defense. And its not like that can’t fix that problem by using a heavier barrel too if need be.

      • Tritro29

        Err the barrel has lost exactly 120 grams. It’s the receiver and the action that actually got the Weight Watcher’s. Also It’s actually MORE accurate (and that’s not because of the system, there’s just a somewhat better QC now when it comes both to the ammo and production). Also the NSV was already far lighter than the M2…

        • tts

          120grams vs what? The NSV? You know the weight between the KORD and NSV isn’t all that different right? It also had similar problems with the barrel heating quickly. The KORD is lots more accurate when its cool I know. Its when its hot that it flops around like a wet noodle just like the NSV.

          They’ve tried to even out the heating on the barrel to deal with this with on the KORD with some success but it doesn’t work miracles. These guns just aren’t meant for use in more than very short 2-3rd bursts at long range. At close range sure, it won’t matter much.

          • Tritro29

            Uhmm i know that the complete system between Kord and NSV is almost the same. Also Having used only the NSV during my time, the Gun was plenty accurate at 1000m, The barrel is even heavier on the Infatry Kord.

            The system is far more reliable because it has been straightened out and lightened, breech block and working mechanism. That has allowed to have an over-beefed up receiver/body (less stress on the barrel as well).

            Basically the orginal Nikitin was even lighter at 18/19 kg back in 1960’s.

            Also Which Current Heavy machine gun is meant for LONG bursts and accuracy in LONG range?

          • tts

            “Plenty accurate” for a HMG doesn’t mean too much though (300mm groups @ 100m is considered OK for the KORD as far as I know) and I never said they couldn’t pop a heavier barrel on the KORD. But we’re talking about the lightest version.

            I also never said it was unreliable.

            For “LONG bursts + LONG range”? I’m assuming you mean hundreds of rounds and 1000yd+? None that is single barrel and air cooled that I know of, certainly none in the KORD’s weight class. 20-30rd bursts @ 600-700yd is generally considered doable with a M2 to my knowledge, obviously not all day or for hours on end.

      • micmac80

        Hmm talking about accuracy , Kord like all russian HMG comes with an optical sight . M2 comes with ”pistol sights” , so is by nature aimed by walking tracers in .

        • tts

          In single shot mode its very accurate but if you want single shot sniping there are much lighter weapons. Its a machine gun and is very capable of full auto fire which is expected to be frequently used with it. The problem with barrel heating effecting accuracy is something that is an issue with full auto not single shots.

          • iksnilol

            Machine guns are best sniping weapons.

            Instead of silly 1 super sub moa round you shoot 5-6 okay rounds and hit everythang 😛

          • Tritro29

            Single shot? On a Nikitin? There were guys that would indeed break their fingers shooting single or two round bursts out of it, but the norm was three. There’s no single shot position…

          • tts

            You got the conversation mixed up. I wasn’t talking about the Nikitin I was talking about the KORD which you single shot by tapping the trigger properly. You can single shot a M2 in a similar fashion if you want.

          • Tritro29

            Yeah tapping on the Kord trigger…hahahahahahahaah. Very efficient for well aimed steady and accurate shots thourgh PO 3/6. Nope you can’t because the Kord, like the Nikitin when used in Infantry mode, is used with a pistol trigger. Not a push pad or brake like NSV/T or 6P49. Again there’s no single shot mode and it’s very complex to squeeze consistently single shot out of both systems. Even infamous Kord man was feeling the brace of the Kord recoil when he was punching his single shot out of his Kord march. IDEX 2009 demo with Kord on Infantry position is typical of the difficulty to have consistent single shots out of the trigger unit of now.

          • tts

            But its a .50cal HMG so of course single shot isn’t easy or low recoil. I didn’t say it would be. But high recoil doesn’t mean you can’t be accurate with aimed single shots. Its not trivial on a M2 either to do single shots, practice is required.

            Heck the video of that huge Russian dude walking around with a KORD is done with him getting single shots off as you note. So its obviously doable and not laughably impossible.

          • Tritro29

            Jesus you should know when to let go. “Tapping” on a pistol type trigger, is the complete opposite of accurate shooting. It impacts the alignment and for nothing as probably your first shot will get there ANYWAY if you let go two or three rounds, so it’s absurd to even try and “tap” your Kord or Nikitin. It’s completely different from brake triggers on mounted Nikitins (NSV/T). Where Tapping is indeed required as the brake is even more complicated to control and release shot in shot out. Just stop. On the other side this is about your perceived lack of accuracy of the Soviet designed HMG’s which ironically it’s simply not the case. The HMG’s are pretty accurate for much of their tasks. The Kord remedies a dispersion issue on long fire burts. That dispersion will always be a problem when you send half the belt down range, the size and energy of the cartdrige does the rest. It’s simple really. They’re excellent Heavy Machine Guns at 2/3 of the M2 weight. The DSHK was already 5 kilograms lighter. The M2 is heavy and for whatever reason it wasn’t replaced as the mainstay for its role. Personally I don’t diss the M2. It fascinates me. Looks very futuristic even more than a century after its conception. But it can be replaced, everything can be replaced with enough effort and thinking.

          • tts

            Dude I’m not disagreeing with you to be a jerk. Unfortunately I don’t have the damn information I had and I can’t find it anymore on the net so if you want I’ll leave it be.

            I will point out though that in my original post commenting on the KORD I also said it was a impressive piece of engineering and FWIW don’t think its a terrible weapon at all.

            And there is nothing wrong with dissing the M2 at least a bit. It was a great weapon for WWII vs competitive weapons, and for at least a decade or 2 afterwards, but so what? That was a long time ago now. Its a fairly old design that makes it too heavy and more complicated than it needs to be to switch barrels (yes there are QCB versions now but still) and it should’ve been replaced with, what seems like to me, more capable and modern weapons like that Dover Devil/CIS 50MG a long time ago.

          • jcitizen

            Or use the bolt latch release.

        • Kivaari

          That is how we were instructed to use it 30 years ago. Even our firing positions didn’t allow for getting behind the sights. It seems like the current optical set ups are far superior. Having them vehicle mounted and slaved to controls inside the armor makes sense. The dismounted use should involve iron sights and optics.

        • jcitizen

          I have an optical site mount for my M2, but I ended up putting the scope on a bolt action .50 cal, because it was more fun. I don’t have the dove tail mount that Hathcock used in Vietnam, though, this one was for night vision sights; so it’s like a bird cage.

    • micmac80

      No fancy Titanium parts and its already 5lb lighter than ‘future 50BMG’

      • Gjert Klakeg Mulen

        it’s like the PKM and the M240L

        M240L with titanium parts: 10.1 kg (22.3 lb)

        PKM with all steel parts: 7.5 kg (16.53 lb)

        I think the Russians are on to something.

        • iksnilol

          Don’t forget PKM can save a kilogram by going with a rimless cartridge.

          So .308 PKM could weigh 6.5 kg or something.

          Wonder how light you could get it in 308 with an 18″ barrel and titanium parts?

          • Riot

            You’ve been dreaming of such a thing for a while haven’t you?

          • iksnilol

            Yup, cause it would be an MG that is awfully close to the weight class that I am proficent with (5.5 kg I am proficent with). If the .308 titanium PKM weighs 5.5 kg + about 3 kg for a belt of ammo and it is actually something I could handle with relative ease. Shorter 50 (or less) round belts I could actually use offhand with ease.

          • Gjert Klakeg Mulen

            well the polish tried making a .308 PKM, suddenly it was 8.5 kg. PKM-2000P:

          • iksnilol

            They also fattened up the receiver and barrel. Just look at it.

          • Gjert Klakeg Mulen

            True, we’ll just have to put it on a diet then.

          • iksnilol

            Ah, сука.

            I’ll get the hacksaw and angle grinder.

          • Kivaari

            8.5kg isn’t bad for a GPMG. A 20 round BAR hits that mark without having a quick change barrel and belt fed.

          • iksnilol

            But we can do better, we have the technology and the means.

          • thmsmgnm

            It also suffered from the fact it was a 20 round magazine fed machine gun lacking a quick change barrel option.

    • Giolli Joker

      My first thought. It’s gorgeous.

    • Jon

      I was just thinking the same!

    • 2hotel9

      See? There you go again, introducing facts and reality into a government procurement program. Bad dog! No biscuit!

    • Darren Hruska

      Yep, the KORD is great. Also, let’s not forget THIS ridiculous thing!

  • Tyler McCommon

    Wasting tax dollars as usual.

  • Austin

    Wasn’t the .416 Barrett partially designed to cut weight on .50BMG systems?

    • Anonymoose

      On rifles, though, and also as a middle finger to Cali’s .50BMG ban.

      • Audie Bakerson

        Has a criminal EVER used 50 BMG?

        • Major Tom

          Nope. Not in the US anyways.

        • Anonymoose

          Nope.

        • Tritro29

          We had couple of guys killed in Russia with Soviet 12.7. In Mexico a couple of dozen guys have been cut with light fifties and copies. At least two helicopters have been shot in Brazil with .50 BGM. Etc etc etc. Last case has been .50 used in early 2000’s in France for attacks on armoured Cash Transport.

        • Anonymoose

          Nope.

  • Uncle Festet

    Titanium is expensive. Using it on a machine gun is a crazy expensive proposition.

    • Joshua

      It’s already used on the 240.

      • tts

        True but he is right, its crazy expensive. They really shouldn’t be using it in a mass deployed weapon.

  • Nimrod

    Besides that’s a Marine in the photo, not some army dog face. Marines don’t need light weight titanium weapons made for sissies.

  • Don’t forget the Army’s own “Dover Devil” design. It was designed in part by Curtis D. Johnson, who led the team responsible for the design of the XM235 SAW canidate.

    https://www.google.com/patents/US4311082

    • Kivaari

      I mentioned that before I read your posting. In print, it sounded like a great gun.

    • Here is a brief description of the Dover Devil from the Sept/Oct 1979 edition of “Army Research, Development & Acquisition Magazine.”

    • n0truscotsman

      I’ve never even heard of it. Interesting stuff.

      Reminds me of the CIS 50, the Singaporean 50 cal.

      • I’ve seen claims that the Singaporeans had been inspired by the Dover Devil.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Right.

  • AmmoMFG (Drew)

    It’s always fascinating to see where small arms development is going within the military, and the use of titanium is something of a trend with the deployment of the M777 some years ago (all titanium 155mm howitzer) From what I can tell, they’re going to copy the M2 so closely, they’re even riveting the titanium parts? Wow!

    Without intending any offense to the great JMB, the M2’s time has really passed, short-recoil system and all. Firing from the closed bolt? On a heavy machinegun?

    I’m all for replacement, but it should be with something better, not just something different.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      The weapon is what it is: A heavy machine gun.
      That means its heavy.
      And the ammo is heavier.
      You cant get around that.
      Even if they make it 100% titanium one guy still wont be able to hump it around kicking in doors or whatever.

      • AmmoMFG (Drew)

        When it comes to all variety of equipment, the less rattle you have to carry, the more battle you can take to the fight. A 30lb HMG means you can now carry 60lbs of ammo for the same weight as the M2, be that on a vehicle or in a heavy weapons squad (I don’t think anyone is doing this).

        The big thing with the M2, is that as a short-recoil gun, it’s essentially a gun inside a heavy metal box.

        • TheNotoriousIUD

          Yeah but why? What’s the doctrine? Two man fifty teams? It’ll never be a one man weapon.
          Still gotta have a tripod.
          In a fast moving urban environment the fastest way to get the fifty anywhere is on a vehicle.
          Just one mans amateur opinion.

          • oldman

            More like a squad as you still have to feed the beast. It can eat up ammo fast.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            It’s a wepon that works perfectly for its purpose. If you have a new problem come up with a new solution. I don’t see the problem or the solution here.

          • aka_mythos

            I think it’s essential when you consider the Army’s push towards ground based drones. Take for instance the various tracked or horse shaped robots different groups have built with the idea that they can accompany soldiers on foot patrols. More than with a humvee there would be a direct impact on the amount of ammunition one of these drones could carry in addition to a 50cal if the weapon weighs less.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Oh man now you’re really getting out there. DARPA will never have this kind of tech online until they solve their battery problems. Just like all of their exo suits with Huds. Sure it works great in a lab but they can’t build batteries to power any of it for more than a few hours.
            Again, it’s a weight issue.
            And what’s the scenario where three guys are going to go out alone and need a fifty? Plus the automated targeting tech is farther behind than the energy supply problems.

          • aka_mythos

            If it were a small team solving one problem at a time you’d be right but you have many small teams working on many different problems towards a goal that’s 15 years out. There is much to be skeptical about but if you don’t try you stagnate.

            Battery technology is maturing and while the minimum 16hrs on a base and 3 day duration for patrol use are goals that have yet to be reached, it is more a question of when than if. So they work to make that when sooner rather than later.

            I imagine even when a ground drone is armed with such a .50cal it’ll have a manual override allowing a person to operate it as a pintle mounted emplaced weapon effectively making the weapon team 1 soldier and his robot. Even if that’s as far as development goes having a .50cal capability where you otherwise wouldn’t is a boon.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Again, why?
            What situation would ther be a need for one guy and a fifty cal robot. He would either be massively over or under gunned.

          • aka_mythos

            From a doctrinal stand point platoon level heavy machine gun teams have been reduced to light machine guns for the sake of mobility. While its ideal to have a humvee with one, that simply isn’t always possible. Consider for instance the Marines in Afghanistan who again and again were out ranged by AK wielding enemies on the high ground. Large numbers of Marine operations were conducted on foot because high altitude prohibited helicopters and terrain prohibited ground vehicles. So in that instance there was a capability gap that can only be solved by either making big things smaller or big things precise to greater ranges. It might not be for a while and it may take supplemental technologies but there is a place for making a crew serviced weapon into something a smaller team can manage.

          • AmmoMFG (Drew)

            Same reason you move from tanks to LAVs, every bit of unnecessary weight means you can add another system, more ammo, more fuel because you’re not carrying around extra weight.

            This is why the army dropped the M1919A4 for the M60, and then dropped that for the 249, even though they’ve gone back somewhat with the Mk48 (which is still lighter than the M60).

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Yeah and look what happened when we used hummers instead of tanks in Iraq. Ied’s killed more guys than bullets. Armor and heavy weapons are necessary.same story in Somalia should have had tanks.

          • AmmoMFG (Drew)

            What makes a weapon “heavy” is the amount of firepower it has, not it’s actual weight. There is a classic correlation between these two factors, however it is not causation when you apply better materials science.

          • Kivaari

            In 1917-1919 the BMG went from a heavy water cooled gun to a lightweight air cooled gun. The Vickers was displaced by the Lewis for mobility reasons. Back then MGs were used like artillery for indirect firing.

          • Iggy

            The Lewis didn’t really displace the Vickers, it filled a very useful niche in which options were lacking. Argueably the lewis was replaced before the Vickers with the Bren. The Vickers is an amazing weapon, and it’s only really the weight/expense that finally led to its replacement.

          • Kivaari

            Like I said, Lewis guns were used with new tactics. The Germans tried using a water-cooled light machinegun. It wasn’t one. The Vickers remained back doing indirect and direct firing. It never was used by infantry just the Emma Gees. Just like artillery. The M1919 came a little late to get used. Now GPMGs are used like the M1919.

          • Phil Hsueh

            Not really an apt comparison, comparing tanks to LAVs is an apple to oranges comparison. An LAV isn’t meant to fulfill a tank’s role, in Marine Corps doctrine it’s a recon vehicle, other nations might use them as APCs, but nobody uses them as a tank though.

          • iksnilol

            It’ll be easier to carry (and used away from a vehicle) whilst allowing more ammo to be carried. Who can argue against 50-100 more rounds of .50 BMG?

    • oldman

      Welding titanium is not easy.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Or cheap.

        • oldman

          Sorry thought that was implied in not easy lol but you are correct it aint cheap.

  • 6.5x55Swedish

    If there is any weapons system I would not want to knock weight off just to save weight it would be the .50 BMG MGs. That weapon just cannot fail. The less you need to think about heating it up the better.

  • Vitor Roma

    Just copy some soviet design or that CIS one from Singapore looks cool enough.

  • BattleshipGrey

    Looking forward to getting a CMP M2! (sadly, yes, this is sarcasm)

    • Kivaari

      The people that would want one are the kind of people that are your best and most honest citizens.

  • oldman

    Fin it aint broke don’t fix it. This sounds like another boondoggle they will make it lighter and 10x more expensive. Titanium aint cheap or that easy to work with.

    • GaryOlson

      Be glad they didn’t consider magnesium.

      • SP mclaughlin

        Why not enriched uranium? That way when ISIS captures vehicles with the new guns mounted on them, they’ll get slowly killed off by the radioactive isotopes……oh, wait

  • Jay

    Pathetic.
    They’ll get the same obsolete gun, five pounds lighter and thirty thousand dollars more expensive.

    Someone’s laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Kyle

    That sounds insanely expensive. Though at least they aren’t trying to replace the design since the past attempts to do that failed miserably. Those M240Ls are like 15k each aren’t they? The saved weight there at least makes a difference since 240s get humped around by grunts on foot. The only time these M2s get humped anywhere is in training. Real world they are only mounted on things with wheels or tracks. Alternatively they ride in the cargo area and get hauled to wherever they are gonna be set up.

  • Uniform223

    *sarcastic joking*
    Forget creating a lighter weight version of an M2… we need a 4-6 barrel gatling gun for the individual for dismounted operations.

    http://blog.predatornutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/oldpainless.jpg

    http://www.imfdb.org/images/thumb/9/9c/Predators-m134.jpg/500px-Predators-m134.jpg

    we’re already half way there with the Iron Man Ammo Pack

    call it the M280B aka “old painless”.

    • iksnilol

      They kinda did that with the “Six Pack”.

      5.56 minigun that was carried in two parts to allow a pair of soldiers to lay down some righteous retribution (from a static position of course).

  • Thomas S

    The cost of an M2 is already higher than it should be, but it is a good weapon. Making one lighter by 20 pounds will not make it more deployable. Making it cost significantly more will however ensure that they are less available.

    You get problems like parts interchangeability with the old version and a need to keep more part sets around.

    You still have a weapon that can only be mounted and that no one is going to carry beyond moving it to and from a mount, storage or transport.

    There are better areas to spend money to help the soldier.

  • noob

    How does the KORD 12.7mm get light enough for that guy to hip-fire it in that video?

    • aka_mythos

      The lightest factory production model is over 50lbs… So someone’s eating their Russian Wheaties.

      • Major Tom

        Russian Wheaties with Vodka. The strongest breakfast!

        • DW

          Is true. Vodka also used for gun lubrication, far better than capitalist crisco!
          (Disclaimer:that was a joke and I never said anything about fireclean, pls dont sue me)

    • DW

      VODKA, comrade, answer always vodka.

    • iksnilol

      Well, that Rated RR dude shot a Browing M2 from the hip as well. Point is, making it lgihtweight enough to do that with all the other equipment you’re wearing.

  • Blake

    Question: is the LWMMG & 338 Norma Mag good enough to replace the M2 & 50BMG in a sufficient number of roles to make it viable?
    http://world.guns.ru/machine/usa/lwmmg-e.html
    & is the fact that it’s chambered in 338 NM instead of the NATO-standard 338 Lapua Mag enough to disqualify it for such roles?

    I’d guess that it’d be most appropriate in roles where weight is extremely important e.g. aircraft (especially helicopters).

  • aka_mythos

    There are a lot of detractors, but R&D is recursive, you keep trying until you not only get it but get it the way you want it. They have done light weight .50cal MGs before and this will not be the last. Each R&D program informs and directs future R&D efforts so while this like its predecessors maybe flawed 3 or 4 iterations down the line it may result in the sort of weapon the Army wants to implement.

    Right now we see this as being used identically as it is today but with a confluence of technology it may find a new way to be used. For example drones, if they want to mount .50cal MGs on wheeled or tracked ground driving drones those are gonna be more weight sensitive than a system carried on foot or mounted to a humvee.

    If you wait until you have a clear end goal to start R&D you have a program that looks like the F35 as opposed to the relatively mature M16 when it first saw testing.

    • deserada

      People whom understand how R&D works (and whom don’t bandwagon as armchair experts) are few and far between.

      Registered an account just to thank you.

  • Michael.g

    DARPA, get on with the bolters already.

  • DanGoodShot

    If it ain’t broke…

  • Timothy G. Yan

    Could have just buy one of the 3 designs from the Chinese, all 3 are under 50 pounds, with the Type 89 weighting in just 38 pounds. Here’s Max’s article about those:
    http://www.sadefensejournal.com/wp/?p=2685

    • Tritro29

      It’s the “body” that weighs that. The original Nikitin was also 18kg…the only issue is that the gun becomes a pile of Rubble, fast with accuracy becoming only slightly less palatable than my English proficiency. Basically that’s not US armed forces material.

      • Timothy G. Yan

        The Type 85 has been in service for over 20 years, the Type 88 and Type 89 designs are almost 20 years old, so no problem. The Type 88 is in wide spread service in Iraq and Syria with all sides. The Type 85 and the older Type 77, which is what the Type 85 is based on, are in service in Pakistan and all sides in Afghanistan.

  • Ed Ward

    …” to replace the venerable M2 Browning…”
    The fact that we are now one Century removed from the creation of John Moses Browning’s magnificent work-of-art and, yet, the M2 is still in regular use across the Planet including the World’s most Powerful Military, is nothing short of absolute testament to one of America’s Greatest Historical Figures

    • iksnilol

      Not really, it is a testament to laziness I’d say. Imagine if we still used Fort Model Ts because they were “good enough”.

      • Rock or Something

        I wouldn’t call it laziness since the classic Ma Duece design has survived all attempts to replace it with a “better” or lighter system. And from the list above, it wasn’t from a lack of trying. Granted it’s not perfect (headspacing after a barrel change can be an issue for one) but unlike the 240B, I don’t consider the 50 cal weight as much a problem since you won’t hump it for patrols.

        • iksnilol

          And why are you better off with a separate weapons system?

          Because believe it or not, in a 100 years we made advances in firearms technology… and have gotten new demands but that is not important.

          • Rock or Something

            A separate weapon system for the drone mounted weapon system, that’s what I meant. If you want a drone that can fire 50 cal rounds, than yeah weight is a much more pressing matter then durability or keeping it “Soldier-proof”.

            I’m not above making any improvements to the venerable design, but let’s not lose sight of the actual role of the Ma Deuce.

      • Ed Ward

        You missed the point as my comments had nothing to do with contemporary R&D etc…

      • gunsandrockets

        I’d say the longevity of the M2 was a testament to the amazing industrial production of the U.S. during WWII.

      • 2hotel9

        I would simply be ECSTATIC if someone was producing Model Ts today, bet your a$$.

        • iksnilol

          I know, but we wouldn’t be using them for any serious use.

          Unless we managed to make one with a modern engine and other stuff. .

          • 2hotel9

            Yes, we would use them. Light trucks are highly desirable in farming, construction and industry and what is available on the market today are massively overpriced and over complicated. Don’t need a V10 turbo engine with NASA level computerization, quadrophonic stereo, luxury upholstery and $60,000 price tag. Do need a 1/2-3/4 ton truck which is durable, easily maintained and affordable. Model T with stake bed would fit the bill perfectly.

          • iksnilol

            No offense, I live on a farm. Have been sheepfarming for most of my life. A rickety, 20 hp vehicle with bicycle tires isn’t going to cut it.

          • 2hotel9

            So, you have never actually had your hands on a Model T. That explains a lot.

  • Isa Akhbar

    This sounds to me like another $$$ program in search of a reason for being. Why do they think the M2 has been successful in combat service, worldwide, for a hundred years? It does its job as well as it can be done, and everyone knows it. Modern optics/fire control add-ons are actually a great idea, and could be far more cheaply accomplished. Iron sights on a weapon that can kill at 1-1/2 miles don’t make a lot of sense any more. And, pray tell, what possible requirement can there be for anyone to fire a .50 off-hand, except in an action-movie scene? Get real here, Big Army! Do not screw up (which you undoubtedly will) a perfectly fine weapon system that everyone loves and respects. News flash: It will ALWAYS be a heavy-assed weapon. It is an unavoidable fact of nature. A few less pounds will hardly be noticed, and run the risk of ruining a classic weapon.

    If they’re so worried about weight being carried, it would be far more important to put maximum effort into reducing the ridiculous load-out weight of all the crap the poor ground-pounder is expected to carry now. Back in the day, when rucks went over 40 pounds, stuff started getting removed because it would start getting impossible to move in any tactically efficient manner because of the the excessive dead weight on your back. Load-outs now routinely weigh north of 100 pounds, which is idiotic! I’ve seen guys barely able to make it up the ramp into a transport aircraft because of the nonsensically heavy load, stacked above their head, strapped to their backs. If they’re being infilled or exfilled in a hot zone, they are almost-sitting ducks. Same if they’re trying to maneuver in a possible or known contact zone. Whoever decided that they’re best served by carrying nearly their body weight in their rucks needs to do a serious re-think of the terms “essential” and “non-essential”.

  • The Stig

    This is stupid. The M2 is a mounted system. The end result of this will be a weapon that still has to be mounted, but it’ll be 5 times as expensive and probably last half as long. What a waste of money.

    This seems to be a large issue for the Army now. No one stops and looks at the big picture. They just want to spend money because it’ll further some program managers career.

  • Ectomy

    Gold plate the M2. Cheaper than titanium and the ladies can accessorize with it
    between engagements. What’s weight to a gal when it matches her earrings?

  • Allan

    The Chinese have done this with the type 77, type 85 and type 89 12.7 MG all 3 are 50% lighter than the M2 .

  • Ben Loong

    Y’know what would probably make this weapon system lighter? Lighter ammo.

    I wonder if it’d be viable to rechamber an M2 with .338 Lapua or something like it.

    • iksnilol

      Kord in .338 Lapua would probably weigh around 15 kg

  • aguywhoknows

    Take the system from the KRISS Vector and put it in a .50 and let FN manufacture that thing. Voila!

  • NukeItFromOrbit

    A waste of titanium which surely is needed for other projects. If we want a lighter .50 caliber machine gun start with a clean sheet but DO NOT go so light where you create a less effective weapon as we did with the XM312 and XM806.

  • iksnilol

    There’s plenty of good, lightweight .50 caliber MGs. I mean, KORD is like 25 kg.

    Wonder how much it would weigh to add a belt feed to a Barret M82?

  • MPWS

    “Non-profit” U.S. Army designing new Fifty… Wow! Yeah and don’t forget “teaming-up”. Keep on cracking jokes!

  • tts

    KORD has a accuracy of 300mm groups @ 100m though. You’re not sniping or even “sniping” with groups like that. You need volume of fire for it to be effective at moderate to long ranges, not 2-3rd bursts.

    Yea you can fix the barrel heating issues by using a bigger heavier barrel but then the weight starts to go up quick. And even the KORD quickly becomes impractical to move around without a truck or vehicle. Especially once you add in the weight of the ammo which is probably noticeably heavier than .50bmg since its bigger.

    Don’t mistake my commentary, which has mostly been negative so far, as hating on the KORD. I have no doubts its a good gun, its not just not perfect at everything. But then no gun is.

    • Tritro29

      That’s the dispersion. From Full Auto. 50 rounds.

      • tts

        Those groups are for 2-3rd bursts. If you go full auto for longer bursts your groups will of course be worse. Single shot will help but it won’t work miracles.

        • Tritro29

          Also that’s a machine tested average…

  • Thomas Weißhuhn

    I can see why some of the other designs might not have taken off but I can not understand that the headspacing after barrel swap hasn’t been fixed yet, I know there are models out there without that issue but why didn’t that feature make it into wide spread us service? Did I miss something out? Ohhh let me guess the huge stockpile of M2s that would have had to be upgreaded?

  • iksnilol

    Completely forgot about bullpuping reducing weight in this case.

  • Martin M

    Different people, separate and distinct bureaucracies, same inept culture. Anyone acting counter to that culture is ostracized, excluded, and finally, ejected.

    • aka_mythos

      I personally worked with the people out of that office as a contractor, and I haven’t seem that. When the bureaucracy fails it isn’t any low level culture, its the high degree to which leadership is disconnected and decentralized from the work that slows critical decision making to the point that decisions aren’t made until after they needed to be made. That doesn’t really come into play for this sort of program; the only outside involvement is a few budgetary meetings at the beginning and end.

      In this instance, this sort of R&D effort, 99% of the work and personnel is going to be done in a single location with a small team that’s largely autonomous.

      • David Harmon

        You seem to be discounting the bean counters.

        • aka_mythos

          This is a relatively small program and the bean counters have to justify the time they spend on a program relative to its actual cost. In this instance because the program doesn’t likely exceed a certain threshold in the size of its budget, it will likely largely be the responsibility of the on one of the base budgetary officers. When I met this government bean counter, he told me that for any program budgeted for less than $15M he was only budgeted for 8 hours of oversight a month, because he had to focus on $200M+ programs and other much larger expenditures. For that reason a lot of these R&D efforts will intentionally organize themselves into a number of sub-$15M budget items so they can actually get things done. Big programs can’t do that, since the smallest bite size piece is still enough to warrant a full time accountant.

          • 2hotel9

            Why not just purchase “lightweight” M2HBs from shops that are already producing weapons, have the capability and knowledge, and won’t piss away several hundred millions of taxpayers dollars? Hello! McFly?!?!? Is anyone awake here?!?!?!? Oh, yea. Thats right! Pissing away money IS the goal, not supplying weapons to kill our enemies. My bad.

          • aka_mythos

            Because it’s an R&D program and not an acquisitions program. The goal isn’t to put into service a weapon it is to identify and categorize new means of improving a class of weapons.

          • 2hotel9

            Again, why not let the people with the knowledge, ability and motivation do it? Oh, yea, the point is to piss away money, not supply a weapon to kill our enemies. R/D on lighter M2 has already been done and is available to the companies manufacturing weapons. DoD is simply pissing away money because it can.

          • aka_mythos

            Research isn’t a one time thing, that’s why it’s called RE-search and development… And it isn’t meant to supply a weapon, that’s why it isn’t an acquisition program. It is a consolidation of knowledge as it pertains to a subject and the attempt push that understanding further.

            In acquisition the deliverable has to be easily built and maintained. In R&D they can take approaches that aren’t for the sake of trying something believed to result in superior short term performance… Then 5-10 years out when the next iteration of R&D occurs they can see if technology in materials, material treatments, or machining have improved so as to make those other aspects attainable.

          • 2hotel9

            It. Has. Been. Done. Pissing away more of MY money for no real reason is pointless. Oh, except for the point of MY money being pissed away for no f*cking reason, of course. I take it you are one of the a$$holes profitting from pissing away MY money for no reason, that would be the only reason you keep defending it. As has been pointed out in this thread already, there are plenty of ccurrently available lighter and cheaper .50 machine guns on the scene.

          • aka_mythos

            I’m the guy who comes up with ways to produce munitions at reduced costs by improving the efficiency of the production line and implementation of improved manufacturing tools, equipment, and methodology. I have personally saved the tax payers $25.6M+ per year for the better part of a decade, while making about half the national average for someone with my credentials. I have worked on R&D and I have worked on acquisition programs. I have worked with people from the office who are working on this. Despite working in NJ many are veterans and firearms enthusiasts and they do care about being productive.

            Previous efforts they built a gun and it shot; those stood up to the
            rigors of sustained fire, requirements for accuracy and operations. Having read the actual goals of this program, they intend to implement weight reduction methodology learned from the different light caliber machine gun programs, that in places differ from previous efforts on .50cal MGs and to test whether they hold up to strains in a .50cal platform; they want to see if such a design can meet milspec as well as environmental and transport testing. They want to test .50cal barrels made of non-homogeneous metals; think steel pencil barrel with a snug titanium shell. This will also determine if new milspecs will be needed to define characteristic of the finish and manufacturing of any future .50cal MG. They will build 30 prototypes that will dropped from helicopter heights, undergo accelerated environmental simulation, and more and still need to operate. Why is the Government doing this? -I know they are working with private sector sub-contrators with prior experience on those other programs, but its predominantly because those corporation don’t maintain the facilities needed to do all the types of testing.

            This is a relatively small R&D effort. Its the same people who worked on those previous efforts that you say were “done,” but with their intimate knowledge they believe they can do more. The fact that they are doing this level of testing, where previously they couldn’t means they believe they are nearing a level of maturity.

          • 2hotel9

            OK, lets try this one more time. IT. HAS. BEEN. DONE. Pissing away SEVERAL hundred million MORE of my dollars simply because some a$$hole contractor working for DoD WANTS to line their pockets with MY MONEY is not a legitimate reason. GET. IT?

          • aka_mythos

            This has not been done. The previous light weight .50 cal MG was done in 2009, since then the Army has conducted the successful LSAT machine gun program, which resulted in a 7.62 MG that weighed 40% less than the lightest M240. Part of that program was to test aspects of weapon design that would allow the utilization of light weight ammunition to net larger system weight reduction. This program will apply light weight manufacturing methodologies developed through LSAT on a .50cal weapon as a precursor for testing lightweight .50cal ammunition being developed in parallel to this effort through a separate program. It it factually impossible for this to have been done before since LSAT had not existed then. It is also important to note that the previous lightweight .50cal program, while it achieved a weight of 63lbs it came at a compromise to rate of fire which was significantly reduced. This program by utilizing knowledge learned through LSAT maybe able to avoid or mitigate those compromises.

            This program is budgeted for ~$17M, not hundreds of millions. First you complain that the DoD is wasting money by doing this themselves. Then you complain that it’s about contractors lining their pockets. This sort of program doesn’t work that way. By utilizing Army engineers through the civilian office most of this is covered by normal overhead; meaning in the absence of this program they’d still spend ~$3M paying for facility maintenance and salaries any ways. ~$9M is going to create the prototypes. With the balance going to testing. Next they are partnered with contractors for specific aspects of the manufacturing, but contracts in these types of programs carry fixed margins, usually about 15% of manufacturing cost of deliverable articles, maybe 30% if the contractor was required to carry out extraordinary testing.

          • Ok guys less ease it down a notch—–

          • David Harmon

            You obviously missed the point.

  • Raven

    I seriously wonder why all these companies keep entering candidates for military RFPs and programs (OICW, MHS, lightweight .50, etc). It can’t be profitable for them to invest all that time into designing something that they have to know will never be adopted or put into production.

    • aka_mythos

      Not substantially profitable. Most R&D contracts provide for the cost of labor and materials and specify specific profit margins to the company, with certain allowances for making milestones. In this instance, its a government office that’s doing the design and build, but they could easily contract out some of the items requiring specialized tooling like the barrel. At least where I worked, the profitability is 10 times greater if it goes to production, but that mostly because of volume.

  • Renegade

    Why would it require 2 seperate locations to build 1 firearm? It’s not that way now, is it?

    • aka_mythos

      Picatinny Arsenal in NJ is where they have the engineers. Anniston Army Depot has a facility for the servicing of small arms for vehicles. My guess is that for testing purposes they want to mount it to a Humvee and that the mounting block will be attached there so that it can work with other stock equipment as well as make use of their service test range.

  • 2hotel9

    Ok. Lets clear the air on a couple of points, right up front. M2HB is NOT the property of the DoD, the “army” is not creating f**kall. And the concept of “lightweight” M2HBs goes back to the late 1940s, nothing new here, jackwagons.

    As for the lightweight M2HB, there are plenty of “shops” out here that could produce then TODAY. DoD is not going to buy them. They WILL piss away a few hundred millions of tax payers dollars to study it, and not buy a single f**king weapon.

  • Tritro29

    Have an Idea about how the Nikitin was tested? Full belt, 50 rounds, from mount in full auto. It’s not even called an accuracy test, but a dispersion test. Btw I’ve fired the damn thing, I don’t need no stinkin’ site. Under those circumstances it’s a miracle all 50 rounds are with in 30cm. Oh 5 MOA under similar circumstances please test it yourself and show me…

  • iksnilol

    You don’t really know how accuracy and machineguns work, do you?

  • gunsandrockets

    Whatever happened to the .338 Norma caliber MG project? That seems to me a much more practical infantry weapon than a lightened up .50 caliber MG.

  • Uncle Festet

    Question: does the massive amount of the M2 contribute to its heat dissipation?

    If so, wouldn’t a titanium .50 cal be difficult to cool?

  • Mazryonh

    If we can put power steering on so many cars to make turning the steering wheel easier, could we apply the same technology to vehicle-mounted M2s to make traversing them by hand easier? Speaking of “traversing by hand,” is that still done by hand when vehicle-mounted M2s have CROWS attached to them? What proportion of M2-equipped Humvees have CROWS on them now?

    Furthermore, where exactly are the titanium parts going to go? Would it hurt the heat dissipation rate? And what are they going to do with the saved weight, put on a transparent gun shield?

    • tts

      Powered aim control sort of already exists but its used more as a means of protecting the gunner than making the gun easy to point. They’re called remote mounts though maybe there is another term for them. The old quad .50’s mounts (WWII era set up, declared obsolete around Vietnam, originally meant as a AA weapon but got used lots against personnel) might be more of what you’re thinking of.

      Dunno about CROWS sorry.

      I linked a site that had the thermal coefficients of titanium vs steel in various forms in the comments already. Its quite a ways down now but its there. The tl&dr: it can dissipate heat fairly similarly to steel in the proper configuration.

  • Paulo Romero

    The Russians already have a lightweight .50 , it’s called the Kord , which actually works. Why not buy some small arms technology from them?? Wait a minute , the Russians are the new Evil Empire , that warrants trillion dollar arms programs and defense budgets. Such spending has produced little for the average grunt since the 1980’s. The spending does keep the military industrial complex alive and provide jobs for retired generals , though. The Russians with less and less money have managed to produce an excellent rifle in the A545 and A762 , whilst the US still has the famous M4.

    • Tylor Wehr

      So have you ever heard anyone on this site talk before. The M4 is one of the best arms in service today. Its light, reliable, and accurate; plus you can change it to anything ever.

    • Cmex

      Paulo, America would never stoop so low as to admit the correctness of a politically inconvenient nation — taking leafs from Russian books? Scandal! Even though we gout our MOUT, SAW, DM, assault rifle, body armor, camouflage, accessory ideas and more from them. we won’t admit it. You’re a bit confused about the M4’s years, though. It’s only really been around for about 20 years; we had short M16’s before, though, and it only became prevalent in the late 00’s, and is only really reaching its hayday now. You also have some confusion about how the Russian arms industry works. It’s a military industrial complex but with job security for the loser as well. Essentially, MoD requests something new and gives it to design bureaus. These bureaus come up with their stabs at it. The MoD tests them and adopts the best one. The winning bureau gets the prestige of winning plus a reward while the losing bureau takes away some lessons for the next round. Now, they don’t really produce much of the new thing; it’s there to advance arms design as well as keep up a competent corps of engineers. Russia has tons of accepted designs they just never really produced or employ. I’ve studied small arms for close to 10 years now, and I’m always impressed with what the Russians manage to do with resources and budgets US companies would shriek at on timetables American defense contractors would have panic attacks over. 1944, call goes out for a series of new weapons to meet new roles firing a new round. In 1945, 2/3 of them are in production, and by 1947, all three are being churned out. No cost overruns, no decade plus boondoggles, no ‘lol we don’t need no new stuff’ fakeout contests. And keep in mind they’re not just assessing, they’re designing, building, testing, and comparing.

      Tylor, I remember back when the M4 was junk and we really needed to imitate the AK. And that was the fashion here for years. It’ll change back again one day, or at least a facsimile of that will happen. The AR #1 thing is barely a year old at this point.

  • Cmex

    The problem is a 12.7×99 anything is going to be big and heavy. A light 50 cal HMG may just be like around 60 pounds instead of the 82 for the M2 and the 75 for the DShK.

  • Whitney Philbrick

    Why not wait until the M2 is a little older? Maybe with some more use the Army will figure out how better to use what they have…

    I predict in 5 years the new program will result in the M2 staying in service…. Maybe with a computerized optic added?

    Whit “sarcasm” P

  • BDUB

    We would spend billions to shave 20 or so pounds off of a “heavy” machine-gun that is always mounted to something. Then, if we succeeded, we’d start making soldiers hump it everywhere, and be worse off than we started. And if we failed, we’d be out the billions and nothing would have changed. Yey! =/

  • MRHapla

    Safe travels , boys,,,watch your topknots and keep your caseless ammo dry

  • jcitizen

    I wished they had told me the M2 could not be used as anything but a mounted weapon – would a saved all that toting it all over the mountains on foot. I actually felt like it was worth it though. The promise of that firepower made be sleep good at night.

  • US Army (retired)

    Having served in the US Army for 24 years and since I was on a tank, I came to LOVE the M2HB. I learned a lot from an old Korean war vet about how to set the headspace and timing to get 650 rpm which made it easier to control and to pull it into my chest when firing to improve the accuracy. Most soldiers tend to shoot high but he insisted that I practice to shoot low and walk the rounds in. Even if you did hit low the round would bounce off the ground a lot of times and get the bad guy and it was devastating. Titanium would make it a little lighter BUT do not mess with the basic design, it does a GREAT job!

  • jcitizen

    Mmmm! Titanium would be nice – ouch on the pocket book though!.

  • DaveGinOly

    20 lbs saved on the gun will permit, nay, cause, the Army to expect soldiers who would man-carry the Ma Deuce to carry 20 more pounds of something else. There will be no net savings, but troops will be able to tote more ammo or some other new gizmo.

  • Bob

    the 50 has GREAT recoil ! back in Vietnam, when they mounted quad 50’s in the back of a 2-1/2 ton truck, they have to WELD STEEL on the floor or it would “shoot loose”.
    Now… Imagine this RECOIL with a lighter weight machine gun!
    Kind of like getting an ultra light revolver in 454 Casull !
    Also remember that the BRASS case itself takes a LOT OF THE HEAT out of the gun.
    I’ve fired enough rounds through Ma Deuce in Vietnam as I was in an armored cavalry unit.
    I remember swapping out drooping red hot barrels and actually warping the reciever group on the 50 after putting about 10K rounds through it.
    You haven’t lived till you’ve had a “da*ned near human wave attack” on you.