By Lance M. Bacon - Army Times Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Apr 30, 2011 9:46:41 EDT
Half a million soldiers will soon trade their M4 for an enhanced version of the Special Operations Command M4A1. The Army also will replace its 600,000 M16s with the enhanced M4A1 — or something better.
These are among a dozen changes that will provide soldiers a lighter and more lethal arsenal in the coming years.
M4 upgrades will start with SOCOM’s M4A1, which has a heavy barrel and automatic fire. The heavier barrel reduces warping and erosion, resulting in better performance and longer life. It also allows for a higher sustained rate of fire.
The Army is bettering SOCOM’s M4A1 by adding ambidextrous controls and improvements to the bolt, bolt carrier and forward rail to increase the carbine’s effectiveness and accuracy.
It will take about 10 years to retrofit the entire inventory, said Col. Douglas Tamilio, project manager for soldier weapons.
Replacing M16s will start in 2014 as the Army looks to “pure fleet” with carbines. The big question is whether the M4A1 or an entirely new weapon will be picked to replace the 600,000 M16s. Tamilio thinks a new carbine will emerge.
“I’m very positive in my outlook that the Army is going to see a new carbine,” he told Army Times. “I really think they’re going to.”
The Army is hosting a $30 million carbine competition to answer that question. All competitors must present their products by mid-August. No caliber restriction has been placed on new designs. They must be at least a 500-meter weapon and have a higher incapacitation percentage.