On the 21 December, the US Army Contracting Command released a special notice for a ‘Squad Fire Control’ optic to be used in conjunction with the Army’s Next Generation Weapons. With the effective range of the Army’s new weapons expected to far exceed current engagement ranges the new weapon systems will need a new optic capable of making full use of the weapons’ potential.
The Squad Fire Control (S-FC) will be mounted on the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon – Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR) and Next Generation Squad Weapon – Rifle (NGSW-R) weapon systems. The special notice explains that “upon successful completion of the prototype project, the Government anticipates the award of a follow-on production contract or transaction of approximately 30,000 units”. From Army Contracting Command responses to NGSW questions we also know that the interface specifications for the new optic are MIL-STD-1913 (standard Picatinny Rail) and NATO Standard STANAG-4740 for a powered rail.
Here’s what the Army is hoping to achieve with the new S-FC systems:
The Squad – Fire Control’s (S-FC) prototyping objective is to provide a ruggedized fire control that increases accuracy and lethality for the dismounted warfighter on the battlefield. Capabilities are achieved through integration of advanced technologies to provide a fire control system consisting of a direct view optic, ballistic calculator, atmospheric sensor suite, and laser range finder. Combining these features with an in-scope digital overlay produces an adjusted aim-point for the Soldier within the field of view. The S-FC program has been selected to fulfill the Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW) program’s Increment I fire control requirement. The system will provide the weapon system an accurate range to target along with an adjusted aim point for the selected weapon/ammunition combination. S-FC prototypes will be provided as Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) for development with the NGSW-Automatic Rifle (AR) and NGSW-Rifle (R) programs
The new fire control unit will need to combine numerous technologies into a single rugged package that does not make weapon systems unwieldy and weighs no more than 2 lbs. The Army Contracting Command special notice stresses that it is “not a notice for a solicitation, nor is it a request for proposals or whitepapers”, simply an announcement of intent to seek prototypes in the future, with interested parties invited to respond by the 21 January.
Thanks to Soldier Systems Daily we have some photographs of the optic SIG Sauer has been developing for its Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle prototype. SIG Sauer’s optic combines a laser range finder with their Ballistic Data Xchange software that enables it to provide an adjusted aiming point – something the special notice calls for.
When a prototype opportunity notice or request for proposals for the new S-FC is issued manufacturers will have to deliver 10 prototype models to allow the evaluation of “technical feasibility, manufacturing feasibility, and military utility.” The Army expects the prototypes to be at test readiness level 7, capable of withstanding environmental testing.