U.S. Army Considering Replacing Standard Rifles
Due to quality and reliability issues with the standard M16 and M4 rifles, the army is looking into replacements that would go into the hands of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops around the world. It has been almost 50 years since the army replaced the rifle, but has recently discussed interest in a new weapon that represented more modern warfare and personalization.
The new weapons would incorporate better sights in addition to improved ammunition capabilities. Currently the military issues M16s and the M4 carbine, the main infantry weapons for soldiers on the frontlines.
The consideration of a new weapon comes over the debate of the quality of the standard issue guns that many soldiers in Afghanistan have cited have jamming and overheating issues. One report issued from a long distance battle in the dusty and primitive conditions of Wanat, Afghanistan questioned the reliability of the guns as nine U.S. servicemen died in that fight.
The army has planned an “industry day” for small-arms manufacturers this March, where gun suppliers will be able to display next-generation guns that are more effective, accurate and reliable than the current weapons used by the army for the past few decades. The competition to replace the M4 should prove challenging, as the army has held this gun in high demand and has the backing of many Army leaders who say the weapons are “combat proven.”
Opposition to the guns also can make a strong argument for a replacement. Some experts have cited that the AK-47 assault rifles are more rugged and reliable than the M16s and M4s currently used. The M16s and M4s have also received upgrades over time, perhaps making them more desirable with accessories like flashlights and advanced optics. Critics cite that replacements may be more suitable than upgrades and question the military’s reluctance to find better weapons.
One interesting gun that has made some impact on the future of guns is the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System. This weapon contains an advanced grenade launcher equipped with a laser range finder and onboard computer. Soldiers are dubbing this gun “the Punisher,” as the gun has disrupted two insurgent attacks on observation posts, taken out two PKM machine gun positions and destroyed four ambush sites according to its first contact in early December. More importantly, there were no casualties amongst the units carrying the XM25 in those engagements.