After over 30 years of using the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, it seems the US Army may be moving away from the concept of squad-level belt-fed automatic firepower in favor of a lower-capacity but more precise (and probably magazine-fed) weapon. In a recent Special Notice posted to FBO.gov, the US Army formally announced its intention to replace the M249 with a magazine-fed weapon, dubbed the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR). The Special Notice also announced a classified set of Industry Days for demonstration of potential NGSAR weapons, to be held July 25-27 of this year. The new Special Notice seems more similar to a Request for Information (RFI) than a Request for Proposal (RFP), and explicitly states that no contracts will be awarded or offers accepted:
No award is intended as a result of this Special Notice nor does the Government intend to pay for information received. Any response to this notice is not an offer and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract.
The Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) is a single incremental program to meet future force warfighting needs. It is the planned replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) in Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) and select support units during the next decade. It will combine the firepower and range of a machine gun with the precision and ergonomics of a carbine, yielding capability improvements in accuracy, range, and lethality. The weapon will be lightweight and fire lightweight ammunition with improved lethality. The NGSAR will help to reduce the heavy load that burdens Soldiers and that has a significant negative impact on their mobility, survivability, and firing accuracy. Soldiers will employ the NGSAR against close and extended range targets in all terrains and conditions. The NGSAR will be compatible with and dependent on legacy optics and night vision devices to meet required capabilities. It will also be compatible with the Small Arms Fire Control system currently in development and possess back-up sights. It is anticipated the NGSAR support concept will be consistent with (comparable to) that of the predecessor M249 SAW involving the Army two level field and sustainment maintenance system. The NGSAR will achieve overmatch by killing stationary, and suppressing moving, threats out to 600 meters (T), and suppressing all threats to a range of 1200 meters (O).
While the unclassified portion of the Special Notice does not have magazine feed as a requirement, both NGSAR concepts presented by Program Manager of Crew Served Weapons Lt. Col Beal at NDIA are portrayed as magazine-fed. Therefore, it seems belt-feeding is unlikely, and that the Army’s focus is on magazine-feeding. Note that the first concept, shown in this post’s title image, dates to at least 2015 when it was included in an NDIA presentation made by Soldier Division Director David Libersat.
Of further note in the RFI is that not only is the weapon’s ammunition intended to weigh 20% less than equivalent brass-cased ammunition, it may also use different caliber ammunition than the existing 5.56mm and 7.62mm rounds already in inventory. In addition, the NGSAR is intended to be fully suppressed, with a sound signature low enough to prevent locating and identifying the gunner beyond 300 meters.
You can read the entire Special Notice over at the FedBizOpps website, here.