Defense

May 23, 2014

Beefier carbines en route to Soldiers

army-carbine
 
A thicker barrel will absorb more heat in the new M4-A1 carbine, should a soldier need to flip the selector to auto, according to Soldiers overseeing the new configuration now being added to the M4.

While shooting in the automatic mode is less efficient and not as accurate as firing in bursts, it has its place on the battlefield, explained Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Maddi, Program Executive Office Soldier, Fort Belvoir, Va.

“Soldiers need automatic capability while providing suppression fires during fire and movement,” he said, noting that Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan asked for that and are now getting it, an option absent in the M4, which only fired in semi-automatic and bursts. A new drop-in trigger allows the A1 to function with the automatic setting.

Maddi and others spoke May 21, during a media roundtable, marking the milestone of the first Army unit to receive the beefed-up carbines, 1st Infantry Division, out of Fort Riley, Kan.

The beefier weapon is not unknown to the Army. Soldiers in U.S. Special Operations Command have been using M4-A1s since 1994.

The tradeoff in weight and performance is something soldiers gladly accept, Maddi said, noting that the M4-A1 weighs 7.74 pounds, compared to the M-4’s 7.46. The weight comparisons include the back-up iron sight, forward pistol grip, empty magazine and sling.

Another feature that’s new on the A1 is an ambidextrous selector lever, something that’s especially attractive to Maddi, who said he’s a lefty who often gets left out when it comes to equipment design.

Doing the numbers, Lt. Col. Shawn P. Lucas, product manager Individual Weapons, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., said the configuration conversion won’t be finished until the half-millionth carbine is converted, by the end of 2019.

Priority for those receiving the A1s will obviously go to brigade combat teams that are high in the readiness cycle and likely to deploy, said Lucas, adding that Army headquarters and U.S. Army Forces Command use a readiness model with a lot of variables that are periodically adjusted, so providing a schedule of which units will get A1s and when, would be guesswork at this point.

Total program cost, including all the labor and hardware, is an estimated $120 million, he said.

Right now, conversions at Fort Riley are starting to get ramped up, with about 300 conversions being done a day, Maddi said. That works out to an entire brigade combat team getting A1s every week or so. And, those who are getting them are offering “resounding accolades.”

Maddi said 2nd Brigade is receiving the new configuration even as one of their battalions is deployed conducting gunnery exercises. “Good units are able to do multiple things at multiple times, and I appreciate that.”

The venerable M4 carbine has been used by soldiers for decades. Now Soldiers are receiving the new M4-A1 configuration. Pictured here is Spec. Nicholas Haney, from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, in Mosul, Iraq, in December 2005.

 

Conversion process

 

The Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga., requested implementation of the conversion, in 2010. Reliability testing for the A1s was done at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 2013, to ensure “no harm” to performance following the conversion. After successful testing, Army headquarters gave the nod to begin the conversions, Lucas said.

Anniston Army Depot, Ala., then began receiving parts from large firms like Colt and from a number of small businesses. A team from U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Warren, Mich., assisted, he added.

The parts were then boxed up and shipped to Fort Riley, much like a dresser might be shipped to a customer with instructions on how to screw it all together.

But unlike a dresser that might come with instructions that are hard to understand, the A1 parts came with highly trained armament technicians to do the conversions, Lucas said.

Besides doing the assembly of the upper and lower receiver and bolt carrier group, the team brought along a laser engraver to re-mark the setting nomenclature, he said. “Safe, Semi and Burst” was changed to “Safe, Semi and Auto.” Also, the “A1″ was added to “M4.”

The A1 conversions will probably not be the last word on the carbine, said Maddi, who expects it to continually evolve.

Every soldier qualifies with the carbine, or the M16-A2 or M16-A4, twice a year. Their feedback, along with that of Soldiers returning from theater, will continue to be monitored and tweaks to the system are always possible, he said.

The small-arms community – which includes soldiers, special operators and those from the other services – are discussing other performance enhancements like an extended forward rail, folding front sight post, match-grade triggers for designated marksmen, and integration of suppressors, he said, adding that at this time they’re only “on the drawing board.”

Maddi thinks Eugene Stoner, the designer of the M16 and its family of weapons, including the carbine, should be considered in the same august group as Colt, Smith & Wesson and Browning.

The M4, which Stoner designed several decades ago, was “a pretty good idea,” Maddi said.

“Soldiers trust in it” and it consistently ranks first among all weapons in Soldier satisfaction surveys, he added.

So, he said, “the big question is, ‘how do you improve on something that’s already pretty darn good?'”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 7, 2015

News: F-35 loses dogfight to fighter jet from 1980s – A new report alleges that an F-35A was defeated by the very aircraft it is meant to replace.   Business: South Korea selects Airbus for $1.33 billion tanker contract – European aerospace giant Airbus won a $1.33 billion deal June 30 to supply air refueling...
 
 
U.S. Chamber of Commerce photograph

Boeing, Embraer to collaborate on ecoDemonstrator technology tests

U.S. Chamber of Commerce photograph Frederico Curado, president & CEO of Embraer, and Marc Allen, president of Boeing International, at the Brazil-U.S. Business Summit in Washington, D.C. The event occurred during an offici...
 
 
Untitled-2

Tactical reconnaissance vehicle project eyes hoverbike for defense

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, has been exploring the tactical reconnaissance vehicle, or TRV, concept for nearly nine months and is evaluating the hoverbike technology as a way to get Soldiers away from ground thre...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. William Banton

Upgraded AWACS platform tested at Northern Edge

Air Force photograph by SSgt. William Banton Maintenance crew members prepare an E-3G Sentry (AWACS) for takeoff during exercise Northern Edge June 25, 2015. Roughly 6,000 airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen ...
 
 
LM-Legion

Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod™ takes to skies

Lockheed Martin photograph by Randy Crites Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod recently completed its first flight test, successfully tracking multiple airborne targets while flying on an F-16 in Fort Worth, Texas. Legion Pod was in...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Marleah Robertson

First Marine graduates Air Force’s F-35 intelligence course

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Marleah Robertson Marine Corps 1st Lt. Samuel Winsted, an F-35B Lightning II intelligence officer, provides a mock intelligence briefing to two instructors during the F-35 Intelligence Formal Train...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>