back to article New plastic telescope ammo machine gun is light as a rifle

The US Army has announced successful tests of a new, lightweight portable machine-gun which fires special plastic ammunition. The gun and ammo are so much lighter than current weapons and their brass-cased cartridges that some soldiers are suggesting that every infantryman could in future pack the sort of firepower reserved …

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Can't wait for the pistol and bullpup.

Once we get a LMG that weighs as much as a current-gen AR, then we need to look at an Assault Rifle that weighs as much as a current-gen pistol. overall length can be brought down by bringing the chamber back towards the stock. (Current rifles have a large amount of space and weight that simply serves as a way to brace the weapon against the shoulder.) With a little work, I think that rifles can be brought down to the weight of current submachine guns, without losing any effectiveness. Apply the new concepts to SMGs, and they become the new sidearms, and sidearms become the new holdouts.

Then I want the weapon that takes advantage of all the new refinements, but has the heft of the current LMGs.

Also, "Caseless" might be better understood as "Self-propelled sabot".

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Quoting a Specialist

Specialists are pretty low down the thinking scale. Quoting a Specialist's sound bites is not very convincing.

This thing is still pretty heavy. At 12 pounds it is sure lighter than a regular machine gun but is still way heavier than a standard 5.56 assault rifle kitting. An assault rifle + 100 rds is only around 8 pounds and is ample for what it is supposed to do.

It is not the grunts that win wars. It is logistics. Any new tech will have to have an incredible advantage over existing tech to make any changes viable.

What do you do with the millions of 5.56 weapons and ammo? No point in dumping them and replacing them with plastic stuff if the plastic stuff is only marginally better.

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It's all lighter

@CM: The LSAT rifle is lighter than an M16A4 for long barrel or an M4 for short. It is almost as short as a bullpup of the same barrel length. The CT ammo is a HUGE advantage at >40% less weight and less barrel melt in rapid fire for both LMG and rifle. It might get a cobalt plating in the barrel for still-better heat tolerance, depending on cost. Our soldiers carry as much ammo on patrol as they possibly can, and would take much more if they could. Winning wars is, very roughly, grunt quality x leadership x ISR x logistics x weaponry x motivation IMO.

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Manning, ive never seen a Platoon of Automated Logistical Specialists clear a village, just sayin'. Grunts still win the war. Sustainment, Intelligence, Medical, and the rest of the Sustainment and Support in a Brigade Combat Team makes it possible for the grunts to do so. I dunno if you were ever in the Army, or if so, when you were its still legendary how bad Sustainment was when the divisions ran it with Divisional Units across the entire division, instead of embedding sustainment and support battalions in each Brigade Combat Team. If you're Cold War Army, you can probably remember it. When three to five weeks meant quite possibly never.

But really, this weapon is not that much lighter. A loaded M249 weighs 22 lbs. One of these things (which as far as I know doesn't even have an experimental model designation (XM for short, like the XM8 and XM29) weighs 12, and since they didnt say if that was its loaded weight or unloaded, Im going to be cynical and say they were giving unloaded weights, which to answer that, the M249 weighs 17. 10 lbs isnt exactly a game changer when you're already carrying another 15-40 lbs of crap.

As far as lightening the Soldier's load, we need a unified battery system, lighter armor which would preferably be flexible (you civilians have NO idea just how much of a bitch it is to get over a wall in Improved Outer Tactical Vests, and the Armor the British Army uses is even worse) and several other things like making the tactical radios lighter, encrypted, and able to interface with the higher nets and foreign nets. Its a real bitch being shot at in Afghanistan, knowing full well that someone has aircraft patrolling in your AO, but not being able to talk to them unless your unit happens to have a TACP either with you or within range and on your net.

This was a few years ago, and its been a pain in the Army's collective ass since Grenada, so hopefully they'll be fixing the radio issues sooner rather than later.

But honestly, what we really really need is a single type of battery for our electronic equipment, or at least a unified charging system. Battery technology as it stands sucks. I was a Squad Radio Telephone Operator, and with the Harris radios we used for the long range nets, you'd have to carry 4 or so spare batteries for a 3 day patrol.

But anyway, back to this weapon. Its simply too complicated, when it takes half a page on a tech website to describe the ammunition, and only the ammunition. Its simply too complicated. And I can virtually guarantee you that it isnt as reliable as an M249. It would be XM(insertrandomnumberhere) already if they figured it might be better.

If the weapon's complexity actually doesn't stop it, Army Politics will. The way that Ordnance Corps and Natick Soldier Systems Center/PEO Soldier picks weapons for units that aren't SOPMOD (about 93% of the Army) is based on reliability testing first. This is why SOPMOD units use all kinds of weird weapons, like the M110, the FN SCAR, etc. And also why we're still using M14 derivatives as our Medium range semi-automatic Marksman rifle because noone's ever developed anything better.

Anyway, If your weapon isnt as reliable as what its intended to replace, it wont go any further in the consideration process unless you can justify a new class of weapon, and after the Mk 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher and its perceived lack of usefulness at Flagpole, you're gonna be hard pressed to do so. Anyway, if its not a new weapons system you have to play the Army's game about replacing existing systems. Its the same reason the XM8 project was terminated, it simply never passed Phase I because it wasn't as reliable as an M16A2. They move onto functional testing after that. Its also why the M16 series probably won't be replaced anytime soon, unless its by a modification like the H&K 416/417 uppers for the M4 and M4A1.

And the reason Im replying instead of saying something directly is that Specialists may not be decisionmakers, but they're by and large the people actually working. I was a Specialist for nearly 3 years and was much more intelligent than a large number of Sergeants and virtually every commissioned Officer I ever met (Ironically the West Pointers were always the dumbest, ROTC officers weren't much better).

The only people on the whole better than Specialists as far as practical working knowledge in the Armed Forces goes are Chief Warrant Officers. When I made NCO finally, Id listen to the Specialists and CWOs the most when it came to actual work product matters. Administration stuff is mostly Sergeant's stuff but hell, I was only an E-5 and E-6, I didnt have much say in any of that. Some, but not much.

Privates are usually 18-20 years old, so they piss and moan most of the time and try to bullshit their way out of work, Sergeants are either really cool and down to earth or really bitter people who are mean for meanness' sake. Junior Officers think they own the world, Senior Officers think they know everything and DO own the orld. So really the only people with sense are the ones who fall through the cracks, Specialists, Sergeant First Classes, and Chief Warrant Officers specifically.

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Anonymous Coward

Why not fire the whole cartridge and bullet? That's 65% more bullet per bullet.

Cave Johnson, we're done here.

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Purpose of trial

Obviously, this was started as an LMG prototype because the thermodynamic and physical issues are hardest to solve for an LMG: sustained fire plus the requirement to be as light and compact as possible. I can't see the point of buying it until we change the calibre from 5.56 to something larger, eg 6.5, 6.8, 7mm, and hence restore some more commonality to ammunition load within a section at least. I suspect plastic cased ammunition will be more robust and less environmentally sensitive than caseless...it still looks like a massive improvement on what we have now

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Question

Will this gun be more effective at killing zombies?

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The name is LSAT.

They are the LSAT rifle and LMG. 6mm or 6.5mm ammo like Grendel would be the best compromise, but to sell the low weight figure the old 5.56 caliber will probably stay, perhaps in a long range ~75 grain bullet. The new, standard 5.56 M855A1 EPR round has 3x the effective range for lethality and barrier penetration as the older M855 AP round, so that helps. The LSAT design is very good but currently suffers some in accuracy (generally elevation) compared with the M16. Barrel heating problems are absolutely reduced with LSAT. Plastic cases work fine as shown in Natec ammo, but cased-telescoped cartridges and the tilting, splitting chamber present new challenges to alignment of the bullet as it hits the barrel grooves: the design has a lot of accuracy-robbing "headspace." This is probably one reason why the LMG is the first application. Belt- or magazine-fed LMG ammo can be different from rifle ammo without much loss of safety, they seldom are interchanged. Anyway, this system is a major breakthrough in the sad science of war weapons. It arose from ingenious creative design, not new materials (except plastics) or electronics.

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FAIL

"You would own the battlefield."

Ah, the "battlefield" how quaint, I recall reading about "battlefields" in the history books.

Unfortunately for the Pentagon, they have yet to realise that there are no more wars that have a "battlefield" to win.

This is the problem with the US Military, they think whiz bang weaponry will win them wars and there is no doubt they do have the very best in whiz bang weaponry.

Everybody knows this, and the sort of people who are likely to find themselves up against the Septics at some point is under no illusion that they could beat them on the "field of battle" so they simply refuse to step on to the field.

Instead, they hide in homes and churches and wait for the Yanks to goose step their way into town and proceed to detonate garbage cans and baby carriages as they pass.

Sure, this looks like a neat bit of tech there is no doubt about it, but the fact remains that the US already are years in front of every other country on the planet in terms of KillTech yet they are still unable to subdue a bunch of rag wearing peasants carrying 50 year old AK-47's.

Fail, the one word motto of the U.S. Military

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Then riddle me this.

How do you defeat a foe willing to break the rules without breaking the rules yourself?

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Anonymous Coward

"Gitmo"

It's a good question, but it's also a false one. The answer is, as quite often with this particular party, to not cause the fray in the first place. That holds even if it was a runaway service under a different president as did done and thought helping these sadly suppressed rebellion boys yonder was a great idea and nevermind the funny ideas they were having. The world isn't shaped in one four year term you know. Not even in two.

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It's not a false question.

Because just ONE galvanizing moment can shape things like you wouldn't believe. An excellent example in multiple cases is Pearl Harbor. The strike was unprovoked. IOW, the fight came to the Americans. Furthermore, it was a military strike: a surprise attack meant to cripple American presence in the Pacific and thus give the Japanese free reign. Yet as a result of the unprovoked attack, American sentiment polarized as quickly as the word got around. Things CAN move quickly with the right motivation: righteous indignation or an existential threat tend to be two of the strongest motivators.

So what if an avowed enemy of your homeland decides to launch an all-out campaign against your country: no holds barred? He either wipes you out or destroys the world trying, so MAD is not a deterrent but a winning scenario. And he's willing to strike first, so the question applies. How does a scrupulous party defeat an UNscrupulous opponent for whom NOTHING is taboo?

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By recalling rules 303 and 1.

See Breaker Morant for rule 303. Rule 1 is: there are no rules.

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Anonymous Coward

Blah

There you go again, harping up on the same old, conveniently forgetting, well, history. War was brewing, everybody knew this, and you 'merkins were, quite simply, in the way. Now you can assign moral values to it all you want --and you do, firmly believing being a good guy and having American Citizenship[tm] are synonymous-- and you can go "we didn't know it was coming!", but that quite simply isn't true. Or at least, it's your own bloody fault for ignoring all the signs including your own intelligence.

That wasn't an all-out campaign of annihilation nor of conquest. And even if it was, that back then doesn't justify now, on the one hand castigating everybody else for "human rights violations" and more of that rhetoric while on the other hand declaring /some/ people devoid of rights and putting them under torture in concentration camps for years, no trial.

If we're going to talk "righteous", then you'll have to find a fellow american to agree because the rest of the world is wont to see it slightly differently. And that includes large swathes of Europe even if we will honour our obligations regardless.

The difference here is that civilised people play by civilised rules, even if that puts you at a disadvantage. If your superior numbers, your superior technology, your superior tactics, your superior strategy, your superior logistics, your superior everything down to your self-righteous moral superiority is not enough, then you, quite simply, weren't all that superior.

And then there's the minor point of having, on more than one occasion, turned out to have created the monster that's turned on you, yourself. No cookie for you.

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An argument broke out on the edge of the smoking village...

Maybe it would be instructive to read CJ Chivers "The Gun" again, especially on the introduction of the M16 during the Vietnam War with such slurs as "designed by Mattel" and "better used as club to beat the enemy" than suggesting plastic as the way to go.

There are 100,000,000 AK-47s in the world compared to about 8,000,000 M16s.

The "At War" blog from the New York Times is also a valuable resource to see how things work under field conditions.

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There is no sense

If affect the feel is too light, rear seat is not the same.

[img]http://www.imgquick.com/images/43.gif[/img]

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