Magazine article National Defense

SOCOM Looking for Next-Generation Weapon

Magazine article National Defense

SOCOM Looking for Next-Generation Weapon

Article excerpt

The U.S. Special Operations Command is looking for a next-generation assault rifle.

The command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., expects to award a contract for a Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle in November, according to SOCOM spokesman Chet Justice.

SCAR, as it already has become known, "will improve mission performance ... by providing [SOF] with a reliable and accurate rifle," said Army Col. Tom Spellissy, program executive officer for special programs in SOCOM's Joint Service Small Arms Program.

'This will be a weapon of maximized lethality, superior to the M4A1 [carbine] through versatility, fire control and target acquisition, both day and night, during [dose quarters battle] and to ranges of 500 [meters]," he told NDIA's 2003 Joint Services Small Arms Symposium and Exhibition in Kansas City, Mo.

SCAR is intended to replace several rifles currently used by special operations forces, including the 5.56 mm M4A1, MK11 and the pre-Vietnamera M14, both of which fire 7.62 mm rounds, Spellissy said.

Many units that have been using M4Als in Afghanistan and Iraq "have asked for heavier weapons, said Army Lt. CoI. Mathew T. Clarke, program manager for individual weapons at the Army's Picatinny Arsenal, NJ.

'The M14 is the weapon du jour," he said, because it fires a heavier, more lethal round than either the M4A1 or the M16. The M14, however, is an old weapon. The Army replaced it, as standard issue, with the M16 in the mid-1960s.

According to a pre-solicitation statement, issued in October, SCAR will be developed initially in two configurations-a light, 5.56 mm version and a heavy 7.62 mm one. Priority will be placed on the 5.56 variation. Both types will be capable of exchanging barrels and will be produced in standard, close-quarters combat and sniper variants.

The heavy version will be designed to accommodate changing calibers from the standard 7.62x51 mm. The initial caliber change is projected to 7.62x39 mm.

The ergonomic and parts commonality of the two "is essential for training-time reduction, enhancing mission effectiveness and improving the SOF operator's operational and emergency-procedure autonomie responses that are critical during high-stress situations," the statement said.

'The SCAR system will be rugged, highly reliable, controllable in full automatic fire, corrosion proof. …

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