VK Integrated Systems and Bachstein Consulting Submit XR-68 to US Army's NGSW Programme

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
VK Integrated Systems’ entry into the US Army’a NGSW programme (VK Integrated Systems)

Back in June, VK Integrated Systems, partnered with Bachstein Consulting, broke cover to unveil their submission to the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon programme. The AR-platform XR-68 boasts a proprietary 6.8mm round and an integrated electronic rail system which offers some interesting possibilities. TFB were pleased to speak to Vasilios K. Kapogianis, VK Integrated Systems’ President and CEO, about the new rifle.

VK Integrated Systems' XR-68 in FDE (VK Integrated Systems)

While we’ve heard a lot about the Textron CT-firing rifles, VK Integrated Systems’ have purposely focused on the tried and tested AR platform for their XR-68, believing the venerable platform still has room for improvement. Kapogianis tells us that one of the upgrades that they are bringing to the rifle are their “stocks and aluminum lower receivers that neatly house and route electronics throughout the lower portion of the weapon“. He explains that to accommodate their SmarTak powered rail system only one part in the lower has to be modified. The XR-68 weighs ‘no more than 9lbs‘ unloaded, with the rail system and electronics installed.

Not your normal AR: The VK Integrated Systems NGSW-R prototype submission, note the mag housing shape (VK Integrated Systems)

The weapons submitted to the rifle and automatic rifle elements of the NGSW both run a rifle-length DI gas system and both run the same lower receiver, feed from box magazines and have the same upper and handguard. The only difference being the AR’s barrel length and overall weapon length. VK Integrated Systems say this will allow parts interchangeability between the two weapon systems if they are selected.

Kapogianis envisions some exciting tech integrations for the rifle in the future coupled with their SmarTak system:

Not only do we meet the shot counting requirements for service, but we have a 9-DOF IMU of our own design that is in the receiver. This allows enablers such as the scope or laser range finder to get data from the IMU… imagine the possibilities. And while things like GPS, an IMU, temperature & pressure sensors are not required by the Army, we give them the option to take the functionality a-la-carte.

He also sees a future for the army pairing its weapons up with Augmented Reality, seeing the Army’s interest in the Microsoft Hololens and the Army’s selection for IVAS. He notes that they have developed “a Bluetooth link specifically for the purpose of passing data to scopes and Augmented Reality goggles. Currently, we are working with some very capable industry partners to get Augmented Reality functionality.

6.8 Sherwood, developed by Bachstein Consulting, note also the .284 WIN case (far right) from which the round was derrived (VK Integrated Systems)

While the Army provided a specification for desired ammunition performance and a 6.8mm projectile they have not provided a fully fleshed out round for the NGSW submission to be designed around. Instead, they have allowed companies to develop their own ammunition around the 6.8mm projectile. VK Integrated Systems’ new rifle fires a round called 6.8 Sherwood. The ammunition was designed by Bachstein Consulting to meet the army’s desired performance levels. The cartridge case is derived from .284 Winchester’s case “allowing for more performance potential”. Kapogianis told us that “6.8 Sherwood will meet the Army’s lethality needs out of a 16″ barrel,” and that they are currently “just above the desired capability and functions in hot and cold.” Bachstein Consulting are also currently working on an upgrade to the round, but VK Integrated Systems couldn’t share much more about the rounds specs and final velocities. They did confirm, however, that Bachstein Consulting are developing loads for commercially available projectiles.

Thank you to VK Integrated Systems for sharing these photos of their XR-68 (VK Integrated Systems)

Kapogianis believes that their submission “delivers an NGSW-R and NGSW-AR with common components and cartridge along with a future-proof weapon system.” He says that this will allow for future “modular upgrades to electronics and software without affecting the performance of the weapon.” The Army is apparently allowing submitting parties to refurbish and refine their weapons as the evaluation process continues.

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: TheFirearmBlog.com & Overt Defense.com. Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at: matt@thefirearmblog.com

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4 of 125 comments
  • Nathaniel F. Nathaniel F. on Aug 09, 2019

    9lbs unloaded + 1.67 pound magazine + 3.53 lbs for accessories = 14.2 pound loaded rifle

    I sympathize with the requirements but you're basically giving everyone a BAR at that point.

    Accessories used, selected for low weight:

    Nightforce NX8 1-8 optic
    Scalarworks 30mm mount
    Surefire Scout light
    Arisaka inline mount
    PEQ-15 laser
    VTAC sling (with mounts)
    DA Sandman-K suppressor

    • See 1 previous
    • DropGun25 DropGun25 on Aug 12, 2019

      @Nathaniel F. Ill take the BAR please!

  • Kivaari Kivaari on Aug 09, 2019

    The cartridge is simply too big and too heavy. It is heavier and fatter than 7.62mm NATO. Every weapon designed for it will be bigger and heavier than an AR10. Recoil and muzzle blast will be increased. An M4A1 is good enough.