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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  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
    Joke

    There are gunners and gunners :)

    "so much so that the gunner is at a decided disadvantage in a close-up gunfight where he needs to aim and shoot quickly while standing up."

    Not if he can say: "If it bleeds, we can kill it". With heavy austrian accent of course.

    1. Andrew Lobban

      bleed?

      I ain't got time to bleed!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You got time to duck?

  2. Thomas 18
    Go

    lightweight bullets

    Why not just make a lightweight plastic bullet that's compatible with current weapons.

    1. L.B.
      Headmaster

      Simple: Energy of the round; the lighter it is the faster it has to go to have sufficient energy to penetrate the target, and it would slow down quicker.

      Also accuracy is a problem at longer ranges as light bullets get blown about in the wind making them less accurate.

      1. nichomach

        I think Thomas 18's using the term "bullet"...

        ...loosely, and referring to the whole round, thus asking why we can't have a SA80/M16 compatible plastic-cased 5.56mm round. I rather suspect that the long narrow case would be susceptible to damage and distortion, and even were it feasible, the advantages of both the ammunition and weapon being lighter and less bulky and unwieldy would, by and large, be lost.

  3. TeeCee Gold badge

    So where does the heat go then?

    The thing that has kept brass cased ammo around and the, theoretically vastly superior, caseless variety in the lab, is that the brass casing takes a lot of heat with it when it's ejected.

    Now I can that the insulating plastic case keeps the heat out of the breech, a good thing, but that heat has to end up somewhere. Presumably more of it heads off down the barrel and out the business end, but that surely implies more heat in the barrel and associated barrel heating problems?

    1. L.B.

      Compared to friction and hot, high pressure gasses the case is not very relevent.

      There is a 5.56 NATO (aka: .223 Remington ) cartrige that is "mostly" plastic, and it has been around for a few years. The base is still brass (about 6mm for the bolt/ejector) but the rest is a plastic, with a standard 69 - 70 grain* bullet up front.

      They shoot exactly like regular 5.56 NATO ammo, they are just a little cheaper to make (less metal) and lighter to carry. The brass case of a 5.56mm cartridge makes up approx 30-50% of the total weight.

      * "grain" there are 7000 to a lb (pound).

  4. Andy Farley
    Stop

    AIUI

    The brass ammo significantly cools the MG due to it taking a large proportion of the heat away. I doubt the new ammo creates significantly less heat, therefore the barrel and mechanism must be made of higher heat tolerance materials.

    So I imagine it's expensive. You'd also show up like a beacon under IR.

    Not to say I don't think this is the way to go but a) why jump when they're still making improvements eg caseless and b) it's not without its own drawbacks.

    1. Dave Bell

      The heat in the breech is mostly from the combustion of the propellant, so whatever the case is made of, the heat has to flow through the case into the chamber wall. More thermal resistance from the plastic, less heat in the chamber wall.

      And that may be why a plastic case is better than caseless.

      Now, I understand the M249 has an easy-to-change barrel and so really is a machine gun. That feature is maybe more important that the effects of plastic ammunition, even if modern barrels can stand far more heat than those of WW2.

  5. xlq
    Trollface

    I don't think sustained means what you think it means.

    "designed to be fired on full auto for sustained periods (though in short bursts only, or even its heavy barrel would soon fail due to overheating)"

    So it's designed to be fired for sustained periods but only in short bursts? Intriguing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pulling the trigger and emptying a mag is only done in movies. Not

      1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

        Actually, not always the case

        The US Army is now buying an M4A1 variant with a heavier barrel amongst other changes, in order to improve performance when troops have to "go cyclic" and fire automatic just about all the time. This occurred particularly in Wanat in 2008, where M4 barrels reportedly warped with the heat, causing the rifles to irretrievably jam

    2. Dave Bell

      Short bursts is standard for any machine gun. Better control of ammo usage. Even a Vickers didn't fire a 250-round belt as one single burst. Though a 10-gun company of Vickers guns did fire a million rounds in 12 hours.

      I doubt this particular infernal machine is up to that standard

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bet the medics

    are looking forward to pulling little bits of plastic out of the troops.

  7. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    All the resources

    of the US military at their disposal and they still use a string for test-firings, Mythbusters style.

    1. darkmage0707077
      Coat

      String Taxes

      Oh they used those resources with this test, have no doubt of that. I'm sure they had to spend around $1000 to find the very bestest string in the whole wide world.

      Sorry, have to find my wallet real quick in order to help pay for everythi-ah, I see they've alredy obtained it and emptied the contents for me, how thoughtfull...

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      FAIL

      I've just

      built a brand new untested rifle, care to to pull the trigger for me while I stand 100m away?

      I'm sure I made the locking mechanism correctly and it will only blow up slighty if I have'nt

      Everyone testing a new weapon puts it in a test stand and ties the string around the trigger and waits for the bang or BANG or oh f*** back to the drawing board

  8. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

    Caseless ammunition...

    I notice that the article doesn't explore the question of exactly /why/ nobody adopted caseless rounds. Sure, caseless ammo is lighter, but it has some serious disadvantages compared to brass-cased ammo:

    1. Nothing on the round itself protects the propellant from mechanical or water damage.

    2. While you don't need a normal-operation ejection port for spent rounds, you still need a way to extract mis-fired rounds.

    3. Caseless ammuntion makes the problem of cook-off worse, because there is no handy piece of brass to carry away some of the waste heat of firing, so it all goes into the chamber walls.

    4. In a corollary to (3), the hot chamber walls take immediate effect on a caseless round, rather than after the small delay needed to heat up the brass case. Cook-off, therefore, tends to continue once it begins.

    Plastic-cased ammunition, telescoped or not, will lack most of those disadvantages, provided the propellant remains sealed inside, as it is in traditional rounds.

    1. nichomach

      Eh? What

      1. The G11 used a plasticised round that you could soak without ill effect. Plus, the rifle itself was largely watertight, and the ammunition supplied in prepacked sealed magazines .

      2. The G11 managed fine, by allowing the failed round to be pushed down out of the way by the next round.

      3. & 4. The G11 addressed cook-offs very successfully by utilising a very stable propellant whose ignition point was actually way above that of a standard round (after some earlier problems). The net effect was that the high ignition temmperature propellant rounds from the G11 were HARDER to cook off than standard 5.56mm (an M16 would cook off after about 60 rounds of automatic file, a G11 after about 90).

    2. br0die
      Thumb Up

      I was going to mention this as well. From what I understand, the reason the G11 was nothing more than a prototype was that the problem of "runaway" guns was too high a risk.

      1. nichomach
        Happy

        Actually...

        ....the leading theory that I've come across is that it got killed off (effectively) by the wall coming down and the need to shave some off the defence budget , hence the adoption of the rather cheaper G36. As I say, cook-offs were largely eliminated, so the runaway thing wasn't much of a worry.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What killed the G11 is the same as will kill this baby: The entire supply chain for the regular guns and ammunition is carefully optimised to extract as much value as possible - and then some. Introducing something new upsets the flow and maybe creates opportunities for new people; thus not exactly what the regular cronies pay their damn senator for!!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old idea in a new jacket

    Ze Jermans already tried this, quite a while ago and indeed that was that G11, which didn't even need the jacket so that there wasn't even anything to expel left. Only just when they were ready to try it in the field, the wall fell down, they reunited, and to pay for that they cut lots of things including this. So, if the rednecks have been "working for some time on this", well, it got shelved a score or so years ago so it's about time they had something to show for their efforts.

    <hat type="tin foil">So, who really did bring down the wall? The americans of course, because the G11 threatened the M16 and the 5.56x45. Why else? They stuck to that effigy even when it failed to work in dirty environments like, oh, Vietnam.</hat>

    So, alright, you've made some "progress" and dug up half of an old idea. Now do it again in bullpup configuration and save some more weight and length. There's your lightweight carbine SAW. Do we have to tell you everything? Sheesh.

    Perhaps not obvious to European readers, but lots of small arms related claims and decisions are actually based on personal opinions held to be more dear, perhaps, than religious beliefs, and the debates do have plenty of the flamefest nature. That goes for almost every aspect; rifle calibre (eg the .280 that landed by the wayside), like whether or not to use the bullpup configuration (there's more than one "discussion" out there full of "hard facts" that come down to "I don't like it"), and, well, you get the picture. Even after finally standardising on 9mm for sidearms (because everyone else already had done that a long, long time ago) there are still large swathes in the US military sticking to .45 ACP, basically on sentimental grounds. It's called "stopping power" but if you go look for hard, verifyable facts surrounding it, you'll find precious little in it, certainly compared to the volume of other stuff in the debates. <troll>So, why cling to 5.56 when you have alternatives with more stopping power but insist on worshiping the 1911 and .45 ACP, eh? We have learned a thing or two in the past century, even if you haven't.</troll>

    I don't really care much except that it is indeed stiffling innovation something fierce. And, well, perhaps not even there. We can already kill each other dead so much that if we'd put our minds to it there wouldn't even be a planet left. As you were, then.

    1. David Evans

      Re: Old Idea in a new jacket

      <troll>So, why cling to 5.56 when you have alternatives with more stopping power but insist on worshiping the 1911 and .45 ACP, eh? We have learned a thing or two in the past century, even if you haven't.</troll>

      Military small arms has ALWAYS been the most conservative part of arms procurement, and often the reason is simply economic; there are literally billions of rounds of 5.56x45NATO knocking around the various western armies and the rifles to go with them. It took NATO nearly 25 years to standardise on 5.56mm in the first place, and the bigger the pool of troops that need re-equipping and training, the more resistance to change there is (its one of the reasons the British Army was saddled with .303 Lee-insert model here rifles for 60 years; don't believe the cod about what great rifles they were - the MOD had a mountain of ammo to get through*).

      *I know they were good rifles in isolation, but British troops shouldn't have been using bolt-action rifles as late as the Korean war.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Of course.

        Meaning that as an enthousiast or so, you shouldn't rely on the military to pick the bestest kit, except as an indication of what ought to be squaddie proof and can shoot widely available ammo. Remains the quibble that picking the 5.56x45 itself for standardisation was less than entirely rational. Though, looking forward, now with a couple wars going on and another on the horizon, shooting out the old stuff to make room for something new suddenly is an interesting option, especially if the new stuff is cheaper and can claim to be better in some other way too.

        So the timing of this is a lot better than for the poor guys at H&K R&D back in the 90s.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stability of Plastic

    At High (viz Saudi Desert in Summer) or Low (viz Alaska in winter) temperatures is going to be a problem

    At one end, it gets a tad soft and it expands.

    At the other, it gets a tad brittle.

    While this beast might work somewhere in the middle, I'd rather not be using this where the US army is currently deployed. The issue of a round jamming up the spout will take on whole new meaning.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Boffin

      RE: Stability of Plastic

      I'm also curious as to whether there is any plastic residue in the chamber after sustained firing with plastic-cased rounds. Caseless ammo is potentially even worse - to make it waterproof, solid and stable, other chemicals are added to the powder mix to bond it together, and they were reputedly a problem with fouling for the G11.

      I'm also wondering where does this leave the 6.8mm SPC round which is supposedly so close to US Special Forces' hearts. I presume a rifle/LMG made to chamber the new 5.56mm plastic-cased rounds could be rebarelled to fire one with plastic-cased, telescoped 6.8mm SPC....?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely if all the soldiers in a squad are carrying LMGs it will be a lot more wasted ammo?

    1. Cazzo Enorme

      The problem wont be wasted ammo, it will be running out of ammo. There's only so much a soldier on foot can carry, and you use up ammo surprisingly quickly even with a bolt action rifle. Not a problem in a defensive fight, where you can be dug in with a stack of ammo boxes, but on patrol I'd be seriously worried about getting into a firefight and not being able to cover a retreat because I've expended my entire ammo in the first minute or so of an encounter.

  12. Desk Jockey
    Angel

    Perverse?

    That they are not rolling out these rifles to infantry divisions en masse as opposed to spending the money on shinier planes and subs? No not really.

    A) The makers of the shiny stuff throw more dosh at our corrupt politicians and military types.

    B) I bet this rifle (and the ammo) and anything else of this vein is really expensive. Possibly fine for special forces, but horrifically expensive when you start ordering hundreds of thousands of them.

    C) Soldiers break things. Frequently. Making your rifle of solid metal (and heavy) makes it last longer and easier to fix. Light, weaker things turn out to be more unreliable.

    D) The physics behind brass cases has been around for a long time and they are tough enough to get loaded into rifles without taking damage and for the bullet to remain accurate as it leaves the barrel. Plastic is a whole different ballgame. I can't see the vids at work, but did anyone mention anything about muzzle velocity, bullet rotation and accuracy? If not, any military person will ask as these are_kind_of_important!

    1. stu 4
      Terminator

      glocks

      they made a lot of noise about C with the glocks came out too.

      Now 3/4 of law enforcement use em.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there a shark mounted frikkin Laser option yet?

    No thanks then.

  14. lemmac

    heat?

    There are other advantages: the new LMG's novel rotating chamber (shown in action in the vid below) doesn't heat up as an M249's does

  15. Ken 16 Silver badge

    what could possibly go wrong?

    The old style rifles are so primitive they can be made and repaired with hand tools in a village in the Khyber pass and cartridges reloaded endlessly. The cold war has meant there's a huge supply of the main calibres sitting in sheds. Why not replace all that with something new and allow soldiers to fire more rounds per individual at the same number of targets?

    1. Cazzo Enorme

      You might be able to repair an AK-47 or decent carbine with simple tools, but they still jam up easily enough in wet or dusty conditions. Not convinced about this new LMG with it's spinning chamber though - it's the barrel I'd be most concerned about when it comes to heat, as that's the component that has to be switched after only a few hundred rounds of rapid firing. An important consideration that's often overlooked - particularly in films, where I've never seen a barrel change.

      1. PikeyDawg

        Wasn't there a barrel change

        ... in Saving Private Ryan. During the scene where they're going against the gunner's nest?

        Maybe not, it's been a while...

        1. Cazzo Enorme

          Not watched Shaving Ryan's Privates - my grandfather, who was dropped as a para on Pegasus bridge, watched it and told me it was wildly inaccurate. For starters, it featured allied soldiers aiming their weapons and firing single shots or controlled bursts - in reality they fired wildly, expending the whole magazine in one go with automatic weapons. Amongst my grandfather's colleagues, the Yanks were particularly derided as poorly trained, poorly lead and ill disciplined. He said that if it wasn't for air superiority, the allies would have never got off the beaches at Normandy.

  16. jotheberlock

    *shrugs* Personally, I'd always assumed the reason that rifle squads/sections don't have a half a dozen machineguns each was basically cost more than weight. This wouldn't change that.

  17. J. Cook Silver badge
    Boffin

    There's one other factor with plastic cases...

    ... and that's pressure from the burning propellant. *lots* of pressure. And yes, heat dissipation is also a factor- ask anyone who's been pelted with freshly fired brass at a shooting range. :)

  18. PatC
    Unhappy

    Found another article quoting an ARDEC engineer:

    Re heat / cook-offs:

    The rotating-chamber design provides better heat management. Combined with the insulating properties of the plastic ammo cases the LSAT LMG has potential to decrease the possibility of a cook-off or eliminate them altogether

    Re accuracy / lethality:

    The cased telescoped ammo still provides the same muzzle velocity, range and accuracy as the brass-cased ammo. We’re not sacrificing lethality for weight. The plastic case does the same job.

    Another significant feature is the long-stroke, soft-recoil design, which provides a noticeable reduction in felt recoil over the current SAW. This significantly increases control, thus providing the shooter the ability to put more rounds on target and making the weapon much easier to fire from the standing position as a result of decreased muzzle rise.

    Also, according to never-knowingly-accurate Wikipedia:

    - the caseless version of the gun has been in test since 2008

    - the caseless weapon is 1% heavier than the cased as it requires additional seals in the breach

    - pricing is expected to be equivalent to the current SAW

    - they're also considering other 'more lethal' (read: larger) calibres (makes sense)

    So all good. Unfortunately, no-one's expecting either of these to be adopted any time soon ..

  19. Vometia
    Stop

    "the current M249 (a version of which is also used by British troops)"

    Er, no. They're both versions of Belgium's FN MAG: in fact the British Army adopted the MAG-based L7 GPMG in the 1950s to replace the ageing (though still well-liked) Vickers gun, whereas it's only recently that the Americans finally adopted a MAG variant as the M249 after decades of stubbornly sticking with their bloody awful M60. We're all used to the "American military is awesome" rhetoric here, but it's a bit misleading to imply that the L7 GPMG is a version of the American gun.

    1. Drummer Boy

      Don't forget

      The M60 is a derivative of the MG42, invented by ze Germans in WWII.

      I see the ammo vs weapon issue in the same light as inkjet printers and ink manufacturers!!!

      Over the lifetime of a military weapon (esp in the field) they will expend many times their purchase value in ammunition.

    2. Bumpy Cat
      Headmaster

      Almost ...

      The FN MAG is an older gun, dating back to the 1950s and used by almost everyone. This was taken into service as the GPMG by the UK many years ago. Eventually the US saw the light and ditched the M60 in favour of the FN MAG, which they called the M240.

      The FN Minimi dates to the 70s. It was adopted by the US in the early 80s, and only taken into service by the UK in the last few years, as a UOR (Urgent Operational Requirement) for Iraq/Afghanistan.

      1. Vometia
        Facepalm

        @Bumpy Cat

        Right you are, I hadn't quite grasped that all important M240/M249 difference, so a big fail to me in that regard. Darn numbers, why can't they give them nice-sounding names instead!

        So my point still stands, but it'd be nice if I could make it without introducing a gaffe of my own just for once... :(

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    Note the state of the art remote weapons activation at 00:30

    Worth the viewing all on its own.

  21. Sailfish
    Joke

    The Rest of the Story...

    And when it's not being used in combat, it doubles as an awesome Pez dispenser.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Old idea in a new jacket

    "<troll>So, why cling to 5.56 when you have alternatives with more stopping power but insist on worshiping the 1911 and .45 ACP, eh? We have learned a thing or two in the past century, even if you haven't.</troll>"

    You mean like the 6.5mm Grendel, with its flatter trajectory, better range, and better accuracy that the puny 5.56? We have learned a thing or two ourselves, even while you Europeans look down your noses and say "We could have made better, if we wanted to."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6.5_mm_Grendel

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You just had to bite, didn't you

      I know about the grendel and I also know that's it doesn't come in boxes stamped "NATO". Now read up and take note of the "NATO standardisation" section: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EM-2_rifle

      The point stands.

    2. Bumpy Cat
      Facepalm

      The irony, it burns

      The US dictated both the 7.62 and the 5.56 rounds to NATO, the first in the 50s and the second in the 60s/70s. "Us Europeans", especially the British, were very keen on the old .280 round, which both in tactics and ballistics is quite close to ... the 6.5 Grendel.

      So you've just re-invented something that we developed 50 years ago, and are ranting at us for adopting something that you forced us to adopt. I guess it's true - Americans don't understand irony.

  23. Decius
    Go

    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".

  24. Charles Manning

    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.

    1. Random Yayhoo
      Stop

      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.

    2. FrankAlphaXII Silver badge

      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.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

    Cave Johnson, we're done here.

  26. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

    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

  27. E 2

    Question

    Will this gun be more effective at killing zombies?

  28. Random Yayhoo

    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.

  29. Goat Jam
    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

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Then riddle me this.

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          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?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

      2. Tom 13

        By recalling rules 303 and 1.

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

  30. TimChuma

    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.

  31. dannyjohnson

    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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