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Thread: M16, M4, HK416 et al................

  1. #471

    Florida firm pushing sales of its American-made AK-47

    By: The Associated Press, March 19, 2017 (Photo Credit: Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/Marine Corps)

    This outfit is not the only company doing this, the original Kalashnikov company has American facilities doing, or about to do, the same, as Sanctions against Russia no longer allow for the Import of whole Rifles, or Parts for the same..............this applies across the whole range of AK's, from AK-47, to the latest 100 series..............

    PALM BAY, Fla. — Just down the road from a Krispy Krunchy fried chicken store, in a nondescript east coast business park in Florida, a 60,000-square-foot factory produces about 2,500 AK-47 rifles a month.

    The Tampa Bay Times reports*that Ulrich "Uli" Wiegand, a German immigrant who started the company called Inter Ordinance Inc., sees a bright future for the American-made version of the Kalashnikov, the classic Soviet-bloc weapon with the iconic banana-shaped ammo magazine. It is the world's most popular weapon. There were as many as 150 million Kalashnikovs as of 2012, according to Aaron Karp, senior consultant to the Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based research institute.

    But Wiegand wants to put Florida on the map as the place where the best AKs are made, combining modern American manufacturing prowess with the original design by Russian Lt. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov. With the help of a Tampa-registered company called Purple Shovel, he wants to double his capacity and his workforce, and switch the bulk of his business from consumers to governments.

    "We are taking the best features of American manufacturing and infusing them into an AK-47, with 100 percent American-made parts," said Wiegand, who moved the company to Florida from North Carolina in 2013.

    Purple Shovel is the exclusive government distributor of the company's AK-47s.

    To reach his goal, Wiegand has invested about $5 million in the plant and estimates he needs to invest another $3 million to $5 million for new equipment and work stations.

    The investments have garnered the attention of the Florida Space Coast Economic Development Commission.

    "Their investment further enhances our manufacturing base and provides a positive impact for the region," said Lynda Weatherman, the commission's president and CEO.

    It's a move that has some local gun manufacturers scratching their heads.

    "I don't see that as a wise investment," said Greg Frazee, owner of the Tampa-based Trident Arms.

    Frazee said he prefers to stick with the American-designed civilian line of rifles known as the AR-15 platform, arguing that the AK-47 "is too much of a niche product."

    Wiegand and Benjamin Worrell, owner of Purple Shovel, see things differently.

    Purple Shovel, named for a child's beach toy, already has more than $110 million dollars worth of contracts with U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, for "small arms, ordnance and ordnance accessories manufacturing," according to federal procurement documents.

    Worrell and Wiegand are prohibited by law from talking about those contracts. SOCOM, citing "operational sensitivities," declined to comment on what types of weapons Purple Shovel is providing.

    But SOCOM has a strong interest in American-made Soviet-bloc weapons.

    A year ago, the command sent out a market research request regarding what it calls "non-standard weapons." This includes Russian-designed guns like the AK-47 and other similar assault rifles, as well as sniper rifles like the Dragunov, light machine guns like the PKM, and heavy machine guns like the DShK and the KPV. They are weapons preferred by U.S. allies and foes alike for their relatively low cost and simplicity of operation.

    SOCOM, tasked with training and equipping commandos and synchronizing the war on terror, provides weapons to allies at the behest of commands like U.S. Central Command. CENTCOM, also based at MacDill, has overall control of U.S. military operations in the Middle East.

    As with the existing contracts, Worrell and Wiegand can't talk about whether they submitted proposals to SOCOM to sell it American-made AK-47s.

    "It is still an ongoing effort," said SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw. "No manufacturers have been identified."

    Inter Ordnance is not the only Florida company in the market. About 140 miles to the south, in Pompano Beach, Kalashnikov USA has plans to make the AK-47s as well. The company, not connected to the Russian firm prohibited from U.S. sales by sanctions, is making Kalashnikov shotguns but plans to roll out AK-47s later this year, said Laura Burgess, a company spokeswoman.

    Like Wiegand, she said there is a strong market for the weapons.

  2. #472

    SOCOM searches for 7.62mm conversion kit

    20th March 2017 - 11:40

    by Andrew White in London

    A US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) solicitation calling for the design of a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) could have serious implications for the future of the standard NATO 5.56mm x 45mm calibre assault rifle across the special operations community, defence sources have explained to Shephard.

    According to the 9 March request for information (RFI), the Tampa-based command is seeking a conversion kit for the 5.56mm x 45mm Colt Defense M4A1 carbine in order to upgrade it to a .300 BLK cailbre (7.62mm x 35mm) weapon system.

    The news follows years of ongoing debate in which special operations forces (SOF) have considered the evolution from 5.56mm to alternative calibres including 6.5mm, 6.8mm and .300 BLK ammunition.

    Despite retaining the option to alternate between such weapon systems for specialist tasks and roles, sources explained how such a wholesale change in calibre across entire assault rifle inventories had been avoided due to the vast costs associated with such a change.

    The USSOCOM requirement features an upper receiver and buttstock conversion kit, which would allow an operator to switch between 5.56mm and .300 BLK calibres within a few minutes with the additional benefit of the added integration of a suppressor, the solicitation reads.

    Despite being tagged as a PDW development, USSOCOM's requirement falls in line with similar efforts across the international special operations community where force elements are demanding enhanced lethality and stopping power particularly relevant to close quarter combat situations.

    For example, in November, the Netherlands Maritime Special Operations Force (NL MARSOF) announced plans to procure 200 Sig Sauer MCX .300 BLK carbines (pictured) in order to replace its existing inventory of Heckler and Koch 5.56mm x 45mm HK416 rifles.

    The MCX, according to defence sources, is also being considered by the Royal Netherlands Army's Special Forces Regiment (KCT) as well as the German Army's Special Forces Command (KSK).

    According to USSOCOM's solicitation, the PDW requirement must comprise a non-permanent upgrade solution with the M4A1 weighing no more than 5.5lbs and measuring no more than 26inches when fully extended.

    'The weapon shall be fully functional when collapsed or folded. Kit should include a 5.56mm barrel that can be changed from .300 BLK to 5.56mm in less than 3 minutes. Accuracy shall be 3.0 MOA (T), 2.0 MOA (O) @100 yds. and 5.0 MOA (T), 3.0 MOA (O) @ 300 yds. both in .300 BLK supersonic,' the solicitation added. Deadline for responses is 10 April 2017, it concluded.

    Defence sources explained to Shephard how most of the small arms manufacturers in the US will be capable of supporting such a programme with participants likely to include Sig Sauer, Heckler & Koch, M4A1 designer Colt Defense and FN Herstal USA.

    The news follows USSOCOM's interest in the development of Suppressed Upper Receiver Group (SURG) technology, designed to reduce 'mirage effects', noise and dust effects during operations in confined spaces.

    However, this option would comprise an upper receiver with floating barrel and permanently integrated suppressor, which has become a signature piece of equipment for the international special operations community in recent years.

  3. #473

    US Army Considers Adopting an Interim Battle Rifle in 7.62 NATO

    According to multiple sources, what started out as a directed requirement for a 7.62 NATO Designated Marksmanship Rifle for issue to Infantry Rifle Squads has grown in scope to increase the Basis of Issue to all personnel in Brigade Combat Teams and perhaps beyond. The genesis of this requirement is overmatch. The troops feel like they’re in a street fight with a guy with longer arms. The 7.62x54R cartridge gives the enemy those longer arms.

    Consequently, the Army wants to enable the rifleman to accurately engage targets at a further range than the current 5.56mm. Although at this point, I’ll keep that exact exact distance close to the vest. The goal here is to foster a dialogue about the 7.62 requirement in general, and not offer operational specifics.

    It’s important to establish right up front that 7.62mm is not the Army’s end goal. The “Interim” component of this capability’s name relies on a plan to eventually adopt one of the 6.5mm family of intermediate calibers. Currently, elements of the Army are evaluating .260, .264 USA and .277 USA. The .260 is commercially available while .264 USA and .277 USA are developments of the Army Marksmanship Unit. Unfortunately, the US Army doesn’t plan to conduct an intermediate caliber study until the early 2020s. That’s why they want to adopt 7.62mm now. The idea is to adopt the Battle Rifle to deal with a newly identified threat with what’s available now, and transition the fleet to an intermediate caliber cartridge, once its selected.

    Additionally, the transition to this proposed intermediate caliber cartridge is possible from a 7.62 platform. Such a transition is all-but-impossible with the current 5.56 receiver sets.

    The path of least resistance may well be to adopt an existing 7.62mm Government Off The Shelf (GOTS) weapon. It means less oversight and is quicker to put in action. There are currently four options, although the first one I’ll mention hasn’t even been discussed.

    First up is the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle. This option, isn’t even really an option. Brought back into limited service during the early years of the war, it suffers from numerous shortcomings. However, it did validate the need for a 7.62 rifle option.

    Second, is the Mk17 SCAR-H. Built by FN, and designed to meet USSOCOM’s SOF Combat Assault Rifle requirement, it is a modular platform with a simple swap from one caliber to another. This makes it very attractive for a planned transition to a new cartridge. However, the platform was adopted after a competition between 5.56 weapons and was not evaluated for adoption against other weapons in its 7.62 configuration. USSOCOM recently removed all of its SCARs from service so they are there for the taking. Unfortunately, it’s not a panacea. There aren’t nearly enough in inventory so the Army would have to buy more, but that’s true of any of the GOTS options. Finally, the Mk17 uses a proprietary magazine, adapted from the FN FAL which is less than ideal.

    The third option is the M110 Semi-Auto Sniper System. Currently in service with the Army as a Sniper weapon, it is manufactured by Knight’s Armament Co. As a system, SASS comes with a rather expensive optic and some other accessories not for general issue. On the plus side, it has been adopted by numerous other user groups and a multitide of variants are readily available. It uses what most believe is the best of the 7.62 AR-style magazines and is considered industry standard.

    The final GOTS option is the newly adopted M110A1, Compact Semi-Auto Sniper System. Manufactured by H&K, it is a variant of their HK417 platform, or more specifically, an Americanized G28 sniper rifle. It utilizes a piston system which many prefer over the M110’s M4-style direct impingement gas operating system. However, as a weapon system, it incorporates an expensive optic and a rather unconventional suppressor system. Additionally, it uses a proprietary magazine. Essentially, it would need to be “dumbed down” for general issue.

    It’s important to note that if any of one these platforms is adopted for this role, it will require some changes as mentioned above because they were all adopted for other requirements.

    However, the Army may evaluate these GOTS platforms and determine that none of them meet their requirement. In this case they may very well issue an RFP to industry. There are definite long-term advantages to this course of action. For example, the Army can get exactly what they want, rather than adapting a weapon originally procured for another purpose. Additionally, the Army can leverage the latest in small arms technology such as the new short frame receivers. Interestingly, these may well turn out to be more appropriate for use with an intermediate caliber cartridge.

    In order to take full advantage of the range of the 7.62 cartridge, the current draft requirement for the IBR calls for a 1×6 variable optic.

    Obviously, a transition to the heavier 7.62 cartridge means a reduction in the basic load of the Soldier, to just under half of the current 210 rounds. That is a serious consideration; perhaps the most important for Army leaders to contemplate. Obviously, transition to the intermediate caliber cartridge will mean more bullets per Soldier, but there must be continued development of polymer cases or telescoping rounds to take fully realize this increase in lethality.

    Other factors to consider are the additional weight and recoil of a 7.62mm Battle Rifle. Let’s face it, the military transitioned from the M14 to the M16 for multiple reasons, and one of those was weight savings. Soldiers are also going to require additional training to take full advantage of the new capability. Increased engagement distances also mean Soldiers will require access to longer marksmanship ranges.

    Additionally, word is that the Army desires a sub-MOA gun. If this is true, they are setting themselves up for failure because M80 Ball is not sub-MOA ammunition. Even the M110 is required to often 1.3 MOA accuracy. Something similar occurred in USSOCOM’s Precision Sniper Rifle program where the ammo was not spec’d to the same level of the rifle which fired it. If the Army tests any of these rifles, even if built to deliver sub-MOA precision, with an ammunition which delivers 2-3 MOA, they will get 2-3 MOA results. It’s the old story of the weakest link, and the capability will be considered a failure because all of the variables weren’t considered. You want an accurate rifle? Make sure you use accurate ammunition.

    Then, there’s this whole ‘interim’ concept. Too many times I’ve seen capabilities that were sold initially as an interim and ended up never being replaced with the proposed final capability. There’s always a chance our Soldiers could get stuck with a 7.62 rifle if the planned caliber study doesn’t pan out or worse yet, DoD faces another budget challenged situation similar to the sequester. As we’ve learned, we go to war with the Army we have, not the one we wish we had.

    While the change to the intermediate cartridge could be accomplished with bolt and barrel swaps, which is less expensive than completely new rifles, the Army will still need to transition to a new ammunition. That would be two ammunition transitions in less than a decade and three within 15 years, if you consider M855A1.

    To be sure, this is a very exciting opportunity for the US Army. It could well mean the first major upgrade to the Soldier’s individual weapon in half a century. My concern, as always, is that the Army doesn’t rush into something it will regret, and that it creates a realistic requirememt, having considered all factors, including ammunition and magazines, which continue to plague the M4. As the DoD budget grows over the next few years, there will be money enough to make rash as well as bad decisions.

    On the other hand, there will be institutional momentum against this concept. The Army must not let those voices drown out the requirement to overmatch the reach of our enemies on the battlefield. If the requirement is valid, then it must be supported. The rifle is the most basic weapon in the Army’s inventory.

    Instead, the Army must navigate the middle path, carefully considering its near and long-tern requirements. The M16/M4 with its 5.56mm caliber have been in service for over 50 years. The next rifle may well be in service just as long. Or, until Phased Plasma Rifles in the 40-watt range, are available.

  4. #474

    Delivery of the First AIF Assault Rifles to the Army

    (Source: French Army; issued May 03, 2017)

    (Issued in French; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)

    Having witnessed the failings of the HK 36 assault rifle acquired by Germany, France instead opted for the HK416 to replace its current FAMAS rifles, which will thus remain the last military rifles designed and produced in France. (FR army photo)

    On May 3, 2017, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) received an initial batch of 400 HK416 F assault rifles intended for the French Army. This weapon was selected as part of the Arme individuelle du futur (Individual Weapon of the Future, AIF) program to replace the FAMAS, which has been in service in the French armed forces since the late 1970s.

    This delivery takes place only eight months after award by the DGA of the contract for the implementation of the AIF program to the Heckler & Koch SAS France and Heckler & Koch GmbH group of companies on 22 September 2016.

    In accordance with the 2014-2019 Military Program Law, 100,000 weapons and their accessories, along with initial support and training of users, are covered by the contract. Deliveries will continue for about ten years.

    The HK416 F assault rifle is chambered for the NATO 5.56 mm round. It can fire rifle grenades and also be fitted with a 40 mm grenade launcher to increase its firepower. It will gradually replace all the FAMAS in service with the three services.


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