Monday, September 12, 2011
Firsts M2A1 .50 caliber machine guns delivered to the 1st Infantry Division
Project Manager Soldier Weapons personnel delivered the first M2A1 .50 Caliber Machine Guns ever fielded to the 1st Armored Division’s 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team ‘Bulldogs’ the week of 14 August at Fort Bliss, Texas. The upgraded guns incorporate significant lethality and safety improvements over the classic M2. Upgrades include a quick change barrel, fixed headspace and timing, and a new flash hider that reduces the weapon’s flash signature by 95 percent.
The fielding resulted from years of effort put forth by Army civilians like M2/M2A1 Product Director Laura Battista.
“Soldiers love the M2,” said Battista. “We didn’t want to change it. We wanted to make it better by making it safer and easier to use.”
Battista and her team spent the week with Bulldog Soldiers so they could take possession of the new guns and learn about the M2A1’s improved features over the M2, a Soldier favorite for decades.
“The M2A1’s fixed headspace and timing enhancement resolves the number one safety issue for Soldiers operating the weapon system,” said MAJ Ken Bernier, Assistant Product Manager for Crew Served Weapons. “The quick change barrel speeds target engagement and improves survivability and safety by reducing the time required to change the barrel. The result is that unit M2A1s will have near constant firepower and less downtime.”
During the Bulldog fielding event, MAJ Bernier also briefed the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics Dr. Ashton B. Carter on the M2A1’s capabilities. The Under Secretary was on hand to review the brigade’s readiness in advance of its deployment to Afghanistan. (Read VIP visit coverage in Fort Bliss Monitor)
The M2A1 program achieved Full Material Release (FMR) on 3 AUG 2011. FMR is the formal certification that the weapon system is safe, suitable, and supportable when used within stated operational parameters. The Army’s goal is to upgrade over 45,000 M2s in the fleet to the new M2A1 configuration at Anniston Army Depot (ANAD) in Alabama. Project Manager Soldier Weapons will provide ANAD with the Quick Change Barrel Kits needed to convert M2s into M2A1s. The Army has contracted with General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products to build 9,758 new M2A1s in addition to procuring conversion kits.
By PEO Soldier Live