One of General Dynamics’ subsidiaries in collaboration with U.S. Ordnance has been awarded a $221 Million contract to provide .50 Cal M2 and M2A1 heavy machine guns to the U.S. Army over the next six years. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems has a long history with manufacturing and providing M2s to the U.S. Military while U.S. Ordnance has less of a service history within the military despite the company’s significant time around the industry producing machine guns since 1997. The company developed the M60E6 as an attempt to bring the M60 back into service but unfortunately, it might have been a little too late. This appears to be U.S. Ordnance’s first significant small arms contract with the U.S. Government of a very large scale.
The Defense Department said Thursday that U.S. Ordnance and General Dynamics’ ordnance and tactical systems business will supply the military branch with M2 and M2A1 machine guns under the shared contract.
The contract was awarded through an online solicitation that received two bids and will run through March 30, 2023, DoD noted.
The Army Contracting Command will determine funds and performance locations upon the issuance of individual task orders.
How the contract is broken down between the two wasn’t made clear in the article. In regards to the manufacture of the older M2 design, the manufacturing might be going to General Dynamics because of existing contract experience while the newer M2A1 design might be going to U.S. Ordnance. However, both companies have improved M2 variants that specifically address the headspace and timing fixes that the M2A1’s operational requirements stipulated. Or the break-down could be something completely different.
The question begs to be asked of why the Army is continuing purchases of the older M2 design while a much more improved variant is also being fielded. The answer probably lies in budget concerns and providing support units with M2s while getting improved M2A1s out to infantry units where they are needed most. In addition, this contract comes after the Army announced an initiative to create a lighter weight M2 through the use of titanium. Although it might be completely unrelated, we could take a stab and say that the light weight M2 might be dead in the water and this is the Army’s way of introducing machine guns in what would have been its place.
One of the biggest crutches of the M2s design since its inception has been the dreaded headspace and timing being absolutely necessary for the successful operation of the weapon system. It wasn’t until the 1990s, almost a century after its adoption in the 1920s when solutions to this problem were being implemented.