SOCOM [Special Operations Command] has recently awarded the SCAR [Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle] contract to FN Herstal. While we're still looking for details on FN's winning design, we do know something about what SOC was looking for, from articles such as the one in SEP 04 Popular Mechanics re. Special Forces weapons.
"Looking toward the future, special operations planners are calling for a new-generation weapons system designated the Special Operations Forces (SOF) Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR). Envisioned as a family of weapons, SCAR will be developed in two primary configurations: SCAR-Light (SCAR-L, 5.56 x 45mm) and SCAR-Heavy (SCAR-H, 7.62 x 51mm), with SCAR-L leading the acquisition process."
"A characteristic of the follow-on SCAR-H model is the use of an Open Architecture design that will accommodate changing calibers from the standard NATO 7.62 x 51mm. The initial caliber change is projected as the 7.62 x 39mm used in the AK-47 and other international weapons series."
Several manufacturers have produced what is unofficially called an AR-47: An AR pattern firearm chambered for the ubiquitous 7.62x39mm round which accepts AK-47 magazines. Given that it's hard to walk around Iraq without stepping on AK magazines, this seems to make a lot of sense. And, it's a better round than the 5.56mm in terms of terminal ballistics at typical combat ranges.
Read more in this SEP 04 Popular Mechanics article.
ACE will be watching for more information on SCAR firearms which FN Herstal (a member of the Herstal Group which also owns Browning and Winchester) will be producing for the Special Forces, and will post more details (and hopefully images) when they become available.
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The #26 issue of Special Weapons for Military and Police contained an article on the Robinson Armament M96 in 6.8mm SPC, which was a candidate for the SCAR contract, but it didn't win, so forgetaboutit.
One thing is clear: There will not be a standard multi-service rifle.
SOCOM has awarded a contract to FN Herstal for a SCAR. The Marines have recently placed a large order for M16A4s. The Army has issued a "Sources Sought" document for a weapon with specs which sound a lot like the XM8. Who knows what the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard will do?
Here's an idea to simplify things: Let's just adopt the AK-47 or the SKS.
Build arms and ammunition plants in Iraq and put some people to work. (If it's ever taken over by ragtags, we'll have the exact coordinates.)
I bought an used SKS some years ago for $100. It was reliable, it was fun to shoot (no kick to notice), it sounded "meaner" than the M-16 (remember when Clint Eastwood fired one to make a point with his trainees in the movie?), and the ammo was dirt cheap -- so cheap that reloading wasn't worth the time.
What's it all about, Alfie?
As long as we're stuck with "kinetic energy" (lead pushing) weapons, we're not going to achieve a significant battlefield advantage over our adversaries by spending a lot of $ changing to an individual firearm which is slightly lighter, has a few more bells and whistles, can accept more attachments than a Barbie Doll has clothes, or is more stylish (ie, looks like the weapons in the science fiction movies). So, we might as well save $ by going for the cheapest alternative.
When we're ready to field an OICW weapon, and energy pulse weapon, or something not even thought of yet; THEN we might have an advantage over our enemies -- for a short while.
Now, when it comes to things which cost hundreds of millions, like the F/A-22 supercruise fighter; we can stay ahead of our enemies almost indefinitely, because we can spend more, as the Soviet Union found out.
You know rifles and rounds are like fishing lures, in that they bring out new rods and lures every year, and the fishermen are STILL BITING! As long as military agencies are working with gun/ammo manufacturers to build a better mouse
trap gun, you know ACE (as well as other A-Team bloggers) will be on top of it!