A long-awaited update on the much-delayed Compact Semiautomatic Sniper System program came with the recent Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing that was conducted Wednesday. In his testimony, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8 Lieutenant General John M. Murray told the Committee that the Army’s Squad Designated Marksman Rifle program, an evolution of the CSASS, is expected to hit the field sometime this year. The Squad Designated Marksman Rifle was revealed as an offshoot of the CSASS program by the PEO Soldier Program Office in September of last year, although reportedly it constitutes a modified version of the base M110A1. Accompanying the new weapon will be the new Advanced Armor Piercing (ADVAP) round coming in 2019. The ADVAP is an improved tungsten cored anti-armor round which will replace the much harder to produce and much more expensive M993 AP round. Lt. Gen. Murray said:
So we have several efforts ongoing, Senator, the first one would be the Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, which is the near- term gap. That is a 7.62 capability that gives us the ability to penetrate the most advanced body armor in the world, along with the advanced armor piercing round that’s in development. We are accelerating the SDMR, or the Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, to ’18, so we will start fielding that in ’18. We had hoped to accelerate the ADVAP round, the Advanced Armor Piercing to ’18 as well to line up with that, but we’ll wind up about a year off, so we will develop that ammo, field it in ’19. You can still fire 7.62 and you can still penetrate, you just can’t get quite the range you will with the next generation round.
The M110A1 is a precision semiautomatic rifle chambered for 7.62mm ammunition. It is based on the Heckler & Koch G28E, itself a variant of the HK417 “big brother” of the HK416 rifle which was adopted by the United States Marine Corps as the M27 IAR in 2009. Over the past two years, the CSASS program has been rocked by delays and false starts as the Army shifted its modernization priorities – including the inauguration and subsequent cancellation of the similar Interim Combat Service Rifle program. The Squad Designated Marksman Rifle was revealed as an offshoot of the CSASS program by the PEO Soldier Program Office in September of last year, although reportedly it constitutes a modified version of the base M110A1. However, it seems that US troops will soon get their 7.62mm squad marksman rifle – finally replacing the practically antique M14 EBR rifles used as stopgaps in Afghanistan.