Representatives from the Army’s Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier have recently discussed their work to replace conventional brass ammunition casings in an effort to reduce the load on soldiers in the field.
Todd Townsend, Project Manager Maneuver Ammunition Systems with PEO Ammunition, explained that they are “currently working on drop-in replacement ammunition for the existing 7.62 family of weapons optimizing for the M240 family of machine guns. Ounces are pounds. So if we can take a pound out of a Soldier’s weight load, a Soldier could be more effective by carrying other important things.”
The lightweight ammunition program is currently evaluating three concepts for new ammunition casings and comparing their weight and operational characteristic to that of traditional brass ammunition. The first of the three concepts under evaluation is a stainless steel metal injection molded case. The second is a composite brass case with a polymer body and lastly another composite with a stainless steel base and a polymer body. Composite cases are a concept which has been played with since the 1970s.
PEO Ammunition is set to begin the testing phase with these concepts sometime in the next few months. An Army press release confirmed that “Portions of the test data from the new rounds will be sent back to the developers to help improve the product.”
The project is not a solely US endeavor as program managers have confirmed they have partnered with the other services, including the US Special Operations Command, and the British Military.
“We’re looking at other calibers as well. One of them is 50-caliber round,” Townsend said. “We will continue to coordinate within all test areas to make sure that we don’t do redundant or unnecessary testing. The Joint Light Weight Integrated Product Team ensures that all the services are all working toward one common goal of lightening a load.”
Townsend, who previously worked on the 7.62mm Enhanced Performance Round, said that PEO Ammunition is “looking at doing a full-up qualification by the fiscal year 2021. We are aiming for a fielding by FY22.”