Armed Forces News

Army Fort Campbell Garrison Commander Col. Christopher Midberry fires a Next-Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) Machine Gun during a weapon familiarization demonstration, Sept. 25, 2023, at Fort Campbell, Ky. Both the XM7 Rifle and the XM250 Automatic Rifle are primed to replace their predecessors, the 5.56mm caliber M4s and M249 SAWs, and introduce a slew of advancements in military firepower. (Army photo by Kayla Cosby) The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Members of a unit attached to the 101st Airborne Division are the Army’s first soldiers to be issued the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) – the intended replacement for the M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

Army Futures Command issued the new rifles to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, from the division’s Brigade Combat Team, Stars and Stripes reported. Advanced training on the XM7 rifle and XM250 automatic weapon will get underway sometime this month. In time, the “X” (experimental) designation will be dropped.

The new weapons are being introduced following extensive tests that took place at Campbell and Fort Moore, Georgia, according to the report. During the testing phase, members of the 101st, the 75th Ranger Regiment and some National Guard troops had the chance to use the new weapon.

“The NGSW fielding is a culmination of a comprehensive and rigorous process of design, testing and feedback, all of which were led by soldiers,” Col. Jason Bohannon, the leader of PEO Soldier’s lethality project, told Stars and Stripes. “As a result, the Army is delivering on its promise to deliver to soldiers the highest quality, most capable small-caliber weapons and ammunition.”

The Army has been actively looking for a replacement for the M4 and M249 since 2018. According to the report, Futures Command particularly sought a weapon that would fire a 6.8mm round – essentially replacing the long-used 5.56mm ammunition used in the M4 and M249. The report stated that the change was spurred by concerns that the smaller round performed poorly over longer distances in recent conflicts. As such, it is hoped the new and larger ammunition would fare better against Russian and Chinese body armor.

The report noted that the Army’s budget request shows that it intends to buy roughly 18,000 XM7 rifles and XM250 automatic weapons in 2025, with more than 30 XM250s acquired by the early 2030s.

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