Industry Supports Special Ops With Lethality Enhancements

Industry Supports Special Ops With Lethality Enhancements


Scott R. Gourley

.338 Norma Gatling gun

Scott Gourley photograph

From small arms modifications and associated sighting programs to mounts for crew served weapons, business is presenting U.S. Special Operations Forces with a broad vary of potential lethality enhancements. The know-how consists of potential handgun “personalization” upgrades, variable energy tactical optics, long-range sniper weapons, new Gatling gun designs and remotely operated light-weight weapon stations.

One ingredient of SOCOM’s small arms stock includes handguns, the place along with new part packages like suppressors or new ammunition, business is offering choices for struggle­fighters to “personalize” their present weapon.

An instance of this may be seen within the rising Sig Sauer M18-X conversion equipment, which exploits the modular design of the M17/M18 9mm handgun carried by some SOF components.

“The ‘X’ conversion is sort of a horizon undertaking for protection,” defined Jason St. John, director of presidency merchandise in Sig Sauer’s Defense Strategies Group. “It will capitalize for the top consumer on the modularity of the M17/M18 and P320 platforms with a whole suite of grip modifications, caliber conversions and different equipment to permit the skilled finish consumer to personalize the pistol themselves.”

From a program perspective, St. John stated the M18-X equipment is “not one thing actively being pursued for the time being.” However, noting that lots of the particular person equipment components are showing in quite a lot of rising handgun necessities, he added: “This could be a wonderful approach for the top consumer to capitalize on the modular facets of this platform.”

More formalized program efforts may be discovered within the firm’s TANGO6T variable energy riflescope, a 1-6X variable-magnification scope that allows the consumer to interact each close-quarter targets and targets at prolonged ranges.

In November, TANGO6T was chosen by the Defense Department for the Direct View Optic (DVO) in response to a solicitation to boost squad efficiency with a variable powered riflescope. That award adopted its earlier choice for the Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDMR) and the Squad-Variable Powered Scope (S-VPS).

“TANGO6T has a 1-6 energy direct view optic within the second focal airplane,” St. John stated. “That’s in comparison with a standard optic one would possibly discover fielded on navy weapon platforms, which could possibly be 1X powered purple dot or some fastened 1-and-6 or 1-and-4 optics. The variable energy on the TANGO6T supplies the operator with the chance for will increase in goal engagement.”

Asked about particular advantages for the SOF consumer, St. John deferred, pointing as an alternative to latest choice on each DVO and SDMR packages.

“It’s not simply particular to SOF,” he stated. “If you look throughout all the tactical spectrum, a variable energy 1-6X optic with an enabled BDC [bullet drop compensation] reticle will increase particular person efficiencies, not solely from a goal identification or goal engagement standpoint, but in addition from will increase in particular person hit proportion derived from the optic itself.”

He declined to debate particular supply portions however acknowledged that the corporate is “at the moment energetic and fulfilling the necessities of this system.”

SOCOM components are additionally receiving two totally different sniper rifles beneath contracts with Barrett Firearms Manufacturing.

According to Joel Miller, director of world navy gross sales at Barrett, deliveries have been just lately concluded on an unidentified amount of the corporate’s Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) rifle in caliber “300 PRC” [.300 Precision Rifle Cartridge] for a Defense Department buyer, whereas early 2021 witnessed the beginning of deliveries for the MK22 MOD0 Advanced Sniper Rifle. The MK22 permits conversion between three totally different calibers: .338 Norma Magnum, .300 Norma Magnum and seven.62mm.

“We acquired the primary supply orders for the MK22s for USSOCOM,” he stated. “We made these first deliveries in January and we’re persevering with to make these presently.”

In addition to software as Special Operations Command’s Advanced Sniper Rifle, Miller added that the corporate is in negotiations with the Army to have the MK22 system function the service’s Precision Sniper Rifle.

The ongoing fielding of MK22 sniper rifles serves to emphasise SOF’s rising embrace of the .338 Norma Magnum cartridge. In truth, the previous couple of years have additionally witnessed curiosity by each SOCOM and the Marine Corps in a medium machine gun in that caliber.

In a more moderen instance of business anticipating potential SOF curiosity in a brand new lethality functionality, the 2020 SHOT Show held in Las Vegas featured the show by Dillon Aero of an “experimental” prototype for a .338 Norma Magnum Gatling Gun that was credited with the power to fireplace 2,500 rounds per minute.

Apparent validation of the anticipated consumer curiosity occurred in March of this 12 months, when SOCOM’s know-how software contracting workplace launched a sources sought announcement in an try to determine “potential distributors who’ve the mandatory capabilities to offer prototype, demonstration, manufacturing, administration and sustainment capabilities for a multi-barreled automated gun weapon chambered in .338 Norma.

“The multi-barreled weapon shall be able to being built-in onto a rotary wing plane, able to being both mechanically fired or electrically pushed (Direct Current), and serviced by an exterior journal. The options provided should have a Technology Readiness Level of 6 or increased to be thought-about for this effort,” it added.

The 2020 show of the .338 Norma prototype was coordinated with True Velocity, a producer of polymer cased ammunition that has been on SOCOM’s want listing for a number of years.

Nammo is one other firm working a number of efforts with Defense Department companies to offer a light-weight polymer functionality to a number of clients together with SOCOM, the Army and Marine Corps.

Asked for an business perspective on the advantages of polymer-cased ammunition, an organization consultant stated: “The lighter weight has a far-reaching affect for the mobility and operational use of plane, boats and floor mobility automobiles — permitting commanders higher operational flexibility with elevated efficiency of platforms and weapons programs. Using steel ammunition transfers warmth that causes put on and tear, whereas polymer ammunition operates at cooler temperatures and with out substantial warmth switch, leading to extending the service lifetime of a weapons system.”

At the upper finish of lethality capabilities, Kongsberg Defense continues to help particular operations necessities by modifications and variants of its M153 collection Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS).

SOCOM has been a long-time clients for CROWS, stated Scott Burk, vice chairman of land programs at Kongsberg Defense. “We have been offering them weapon programs help, coaching and abroad help for quite a lot of years.”

Burk characterised the SOF group as one of many principal clients for the brand new CROWS Technology Refresh functionality.

“The Tech Refresh system was initially envisioned to be an obsolescence remedy for legacy CROWS. However, along with caring for all of the obsolescence points, a variety of customers have been curious about functionality will increase. Some of these functionality will increase have been SOF particular and got here straight from USSOCOM,” he stated. “Tech Refresh cures all of the obsolescence points but in addition supplies the consumer with extra computing horsepower, higher sensor capabilities, higher monitoring capabilities, and a way more trendy weapon station.”

One characteristic of the brand new design is interoperable communications between a number of weapon stations.

“We wish to discuss with that as cooperative or collaborative engagement,” Burk stated. “Looking at a easy situation, it means that you can use one weapon station to mainly cue a number of weapon stations to interact the goal. And that was positively one thing that was of a principal curiosity from USSOCOM, because it supplies important bang for the buck.”

The cooperative engagement functionality has been prolonged past the tech refresh effort to a system that Burk says the corporate is particularly constructing for SOCOM.

“We discuss with it as Lite III. It is a third-generation Lite system that’s considerably lighter and smaller than CROWS,” he stated. “It’s even man-portable. Completely loaded with all LRUs [line replaceable units], and weapon and ammo, relying upon your ammo loadout, you’re speaking a couple of weapon system that’s lower than 200 kilos. But … it nonetheless helps a variety of the identical caliber capabilities that come together with CROWS.”

The design was initially envisioned to handle the increasing .338 Norma Magnum ammunition necessities popping out of SOCOM.

“But I’m going to pat ourselves on the again right here,” he stated. “Our engineers did such job in designing the system that we began going by testing and found that the system carried out very effectively for .50 caliber as effectively.”

Significantly, the design can be optimized to be provisionally supported from each legacy CROWS and CROWS tech refresh efforts.

“For light-weight robotics, small floor fight automobiles and transport automobiles, that is proper up USSOCOM’s alley,” he stated. “It’s only a nice weapon system design.”

Although the Lite III system shouldn’t be adopted by SOF components, Burk stated that it has been displayed on Special Operations Command’s Ground Mobility Vehicle and could be utilized in “a few demonstrations within the not-too-distant future.”

“There is one very attention-grabbing half about Tech Refresh … particular to USSOCOM,” he famous. “There is one part inside USSOCOM, popping out of the Army aspect of the home, which could be very curious about backwards compatibility of the weapon system. So they’ve made a dedication, and the system is designed for this, that they wish to improve their present programs by part and LRU attrition versus a full block swap.

“That was what took so lengthy for Tech Refresh to be finalized and certified: the backwards compatibility with customary M153,” he added. “The result’s that it offers clients two choices: they’ll do a full block swap or as they attrit parts, or LRUs, they’ll swap them out.

Now we’ve got one USSOCOM buyer the place we’re beginning the supply of Tech Refresh capabilities, however we’re doing it by attrition versus block improve.”

Asked about another weapon station actions that may be of curiosity to the SOF group, Burk pointed to CROWS integration with the Spike anti-tank guided missile.

The firm just lately carried out an illustration in Slovenia, which is among the contractor’s international navy gross sales clients for the CROWS Tech Refresh system. Spike has been chosen as an anti-tank guided missile by about 20 international locations, he famous.

“We simply did an integration and demonstration,” Burk stated. “The system that we did that on is a Kongsberg demo unit, however very near CROWS. So that’s one thing the place we consider that, as soon as [SOCOM] clears the present precedence hurdles, they’d be very curious about.”

Topics: Special Operations

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