Last month the United States Special Operations Command along with the United States Marine Corps posted a Sources Sought Solicitation to FedBizOpps (FBO) for 5,000, belt-fed, medium, machineguns in .338 Norma Magnum (NM).
Before you get too excited, a Sources Sought Solicitation is not an actual bid solicitation or proposal solicitation for the machineguns, but it’s a solicitation of interest. A Sources Sought is best described as SOCOM and the USMC conducting research to figure out the capabilities and the interests of the industry or industries involved. Basically they are asking everyone, “Who can do this thing and how much will it cost in time and money?”
LWMMG specifics: The LWMMG should fire the belted .338NM round of ammunition with a polymer case. The LWMMG should weigh less than 24 pounds unloaded with a barrel length of 24in. The LWMMG should have a rate of fire of between 500-600 rounds per minute. Weapon shall be compatible with current rail mounted aiming systems with the ability to incorporate more advanced fire control technology. The system should include both a suppressed barrel and an unsuppressed barrel that can be rapidly changed. The LWMMG should include a tripod that is lightweight and provides the stability and accuracy required to engage targets at extreme ranges. The LWMMG should be able to mount in current machinegun mounts designed for the M240B/C. The weapon should have sufficient accuracy to engage area targets and vehicles at 2,000m.
The solicitation does not mention any particular company or product by name, but the above quote from the body of the solicitation pretty much describes the General Dynamics (GD) Armament and Technical Products Lightweight Medium Machine Gun (LWMMG). As TFB reported back in 2012 the now 22 pound, belt-fed, short-recoil machinegun outperforms the current military machine guns in both 7.62 NATO and .50 BMG at greater ranges when it comes to hitting point targets.
The .338 NM was originally designed as a long-range sport shooting cartridge and seems right at home in the LWMMG, allowing operators to hit point targets well beyond 2000 yards with the 300 grain bullets.
A source close to the matter indicated to TFB that the LWMMG will almost certainly happen. The .338 NM belt-fed will be slated to replace the M2HB for vehicle and watercraft applications. This is attributed directly to the platforms superior accuracy capability and the fact that .338 NM ammunition is lighter and takes up less room then the .50 BMG ammo. The polymer-cased ammo will have even greater weight savings. Observations that the LWMMG platform offers superior optics mounting, a more familiar manual of arms and the capability for dismounted use when compared to the M2 was also pointed out. The same source hinted that a .338 NM machinegun would open the door for a .338 NM Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR).