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By Debbie Gregory.

In 2016, the U.S. Army awarded Heckler & Koch a $44.5 million contract to build a variant of the G28 7.63mm as their new Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS). Now the service branch may actually be able to pay for it via a fiscal 2019 budget request.

The contract will buy up to 3,643 rifles.

Army leaders are also looking to upgrade infantry squads with a new 7.62mm Squad Designated Marksman rifle this year.

Last year, Gen. Mark Milley testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the service’s current M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round will not defeat enemy body armor plates used by countries such as Russia and China.

For several years the Army has had to choose to prioritize funding to meet its force readiness requirements over funding the development of capabilities needed to build a future force. The situation will only get worse from here, said Lt. Gen. John Murray at a February 7th  Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee hearing on Army modernization.

“The Army has reached an inflection point,” Murray, Army G-8, told senators at the hearing. “It is the same thing I told you last year, we can no longer afford to choose between near-term readiness and modernization. Specific to modernization, we can no longer afford to choose between incremental upgrades of existing equipment and developing new capabilities, we have definitely reached a point where we’ve got to be able to do both.”

Gen. Murray also said that the Army has accelerated efforts to start fielding the new 7.62mm SDM to squads this year.

By Debbie Gregory.

It appears that the Army’s Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) program has been cancelled as part of a massive review of Army small arms programs.

The program was officially announced on August 4th, and lasted just over a month before its cancellation. The ICSR was proposed as a means of countering the new generation of cheap, highly effective body armors likely to be worn by America’s enemies. Experts both inside and outside the Army believed that the Army’s current issue 5.56-millimeter bullet would not be able to penetrate new armor, and that a larger, heavier bullet that transfers more energy to the target is necessary.

The cancellation was a direct result of the three-month, continuing resolution passed by Congress on Sept. 14, which Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned lawmakers would kill the ICSR effort along with 17 other Army start-up programs.

But that does not does not necessarily mean the end of the Army’s M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) program.

Debi Dawson , spokesperson for the Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier (PEO Soldier) office confirmed that the new standard-issue 7.62mm caliber rifle system is currently in the production qualification testing.

Asked if the new sniper rifle program has encountered any political or budgetary problems, Dawson stated that the CSASS “has encountered no such obstacles.”

Army Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings, who is charge of the programs that provide most of a soldier’s gear and weapons — said that the Army was still weighing a short-term stand-in for the M4/M16 rifle platform while a new one is developed.

“Right now, many are focused on the ICSR or SDMR,” Cummings said. “But that’s not the long-term way ahead. The long-term way ahead is a brand new rifle for all of the Department of Defense called the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW.)”

The NGSW would be “one end-all solution,” he added, with a carbine model replacing the M4 and a rifle version replacing the M249 squad automatic weapon. Both would likely fire a round larger than the current 5.56 mm.

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