Textron Systems, one of the three vendors in the running for the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon program held a media panel earlier this week. The panel was lead by Wayne Prender, who is Textron’s Senior Vice President, Applied Technologies and Advanced Programs.
The panel was held as the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference got under way. While in previous years the conference had been held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, DC, AUSA 2020 is being conducted entirely online.
Textron have partnered with Heckler & Koch and Olin Winchester for their NGSW bid and their prototypes are currently taking part in the first phase of soldier touchpoint testing. This is taking place at Fort Drum and Aberdeen Proving Ground. Wayne Prender told the virtual media panel that Textron felt “that feedback is a very important part of this [process], and it has been vital in our ability to constantly improve our weapon systems.” Prender also indicated that feedback had also been sought from members of the special operations community outside the US.
Late last week Textron shared a new promo video of their rifle and automatic rifles in action, check out our breakdown of that here. It gave us our clearest look at the Textron prototypes to date.
The second Prototype Test phase is rapidly approaching in 2021 and Textron confirmed that they are prepping 30 rifles and 28 automatic rifles, as well as over 680,000 rounds of ammo. These PT 2 weapons will incorporate feedback from the first PT phase. Prender explained that the testing and feedback have been “very valuable” especially in terms of the weapons’ ergonomics, he highlighted enhancements made to “hand placement, trigger pull, how the user operates it, how they change magazines, how they load and unload the magazine belts for the automatic rifles.” The new set of prototypes will go through additional reliability, performance and soldier touch point testing” Prender said. It remains to be seen if the rifle’s right side ejection port in the forend, just ahead of the magazine housing, will be flagged as an ergonomic issue by troops.
The US Army’s testing of the prototypes from all three vendors (Textron, SIG Sauer and General Dynamics) continues. Final selection is hoped to take place in early 2022.