Yesterday, LTC Mark Owens, USSOCOM’s PM for Ammo, Weapons and Visual Augmentation Systems, briefed SOF Small Arms modernization efforts at NDIA’s annual Armaments Conference. Unfortunately, he only had 10 minutes on the schedule to brief his programs. Consequently, like LTC Owens, I’m going to hit the wave tops and not go over everything on the slides.
The most significant thing he briefed was the Precision Intermediate Caliber Effort which resulted in the adoption of 6.5 Creedmoor, something we’ve covered several times. A lot of effort is being put into producing the Technical Data Package for that ammunition. He also mentioned that its adoption is cost neutral as it will cost about the same per round as the accurized 7.62 rounds they already procure. Although LTC Owens didn’t discuss it, 6.5 CM machine gun ammo (i.e. linked) is also under development in the event they decide to procure a lightweight assault machine gun in that caliber. One thing he cleared up is that SOCOM considers the 6.5 CM conversion for USASOC’s M110s as a SOF unique program and will pay for their rebarreling.
Additionally, LTC Owens explained the different Upper Receiver options available for the M4A1 Carbine, including the Suppressed Upper Reciever Group which is still in source selection, Personal Defense Weapon which is a .300 BLK Upper, and Upper Receiver enhancements (a similar item is commercially available from Geissele as the URG-I). He also briefly mentioned the Advanced Sniper Rifle, a recently released solicitation. He went in to clarify that development of the ammunition for the 338 Norma Mag Lightweight Medium Machine Gun had begun ahead of the weapon because reducing its weight is the bigger challenge and the weapon can’t be fully developed until the ammo is ready. He finished up this slide with mention of the enhancements for the GLOCK 19s in the command including suppressor, red dot optics and 9mm Speer Gold Dot G2 ammo.
This slide amplifies the ammunition issues already covered, but two other items are of particular interest. First, is the Scalable Offensive Hand Grenade which allows the user to select the charge. Second, is the 9 Bang Flashbang which fires nine times in rapid succession.
Finally, is the Visual Augmentation System update. As you can see, SOCOM is working to adopt a wide variety of new optics.