With the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons program pushing ahead, despite the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic, the three companies involved have shipped their prototype weapons. SIG Sauer commemorated the dispatch of their NGSW-Rifles and NGSW-Automatic Rifles with a team photo and a new video highlighting the weapon systems’ features.
The US Army awarded OTAs to SIG Sauer, General Dynamics and AAI Textron back in August 2019, each company was directed to supply an undisclosed number of prototype rifles and automatic rifles (along with accoutrements like suppressors and feed systems) for evaluation. While the companies had previously provided technical demonstration models, they are now shipping their first batch of prototypes for soldier touchpoint testing and phase one evaluations which will feed into phase two that will begin in early 2021 and see the weapons put through the final testing.
The original Army Prototype Project Opportunity Notice (PPON) called for the participating companies to provide 53 NGSW-R prototypes, 43 NGSW-AR prototypes, 845,000 rounds of ammunition. It is unclear if this requirement remains the same and the photos provided by SIG Sauer are only representative. In the header photograph above we can see dozens of weapon cases, along with accompanying magazines, belt carriers and belts and at the rear of the photo, we can see two pallets of ammunition boxes containing SIG Sauer’s 6.8mm hybrid ammunition.
SIG Sauer shared some new photos of their 6.8mm NGSW-R, the MCX Spear, and their 6.8mm NGSW-AR, the SIG SAUER Lightweight Machine Gun (or MG 6.8). The shipment to the US Army consisted of SIG Sauer’s lightweight high-performance 6.8mm hybrid ammunition, NGSW-AR lightweight machine guns, NGSW-R rifles and suppressors for both weapons. The Fire Control Unit’s which will be evaluated have been selected separately from the weapons themselves.
“The SIG SAUER Next Generation Squad Weapons system is the only submission entirely designed, engineered and manufactured by a single American company,” said Ron Cohen, SIG Sauer’s President & CEO, “we are proud to deliver this comprehensive solution to the U.S. Army, with new capabilities to enhance mission effectiveness for our soldiers on the battlefield.” He continued: “our ammunition, machine gun, rifle, and suppressors far surpass the performance of the legacy weapons system in range and lethality, offer exponentially better maneuverability, and are significantly lighter in weight.”
Here’s how SIG Sauer described their NGSW-R:
a lightweight rifle built on the foundation of the SIG SAUER weapons in service with the premier fighting forces across the globe combined with the added firepower of the 6.8mm round. Features include a fully collapsible and folding stock, rear and side charging handle, free-floating reinforced M-LOK™ handguard, fully ambidextrous controls, and quick-detach suppressor.
SIG Sauer explained that their Lightweight Machine Gun (NGSW-AR) was designed with:
an emphasis on significant reductions in soldier load and enhanced combat performance, SIG SAUER designed the NGSW-AR to be 40% lighter than current systems, and dramatically reduce felt recoil while maintaining traditional belt-fed operation to increase downrange capability. The MG 6.8mm machine gun features ambidextrous AR-style ergonomics, quick detach magazines, increased M1913 rail space, quick detach suppressor, and vastly improves upon the operation and function of the legacy M249.
The new low-tox SLR suppressor, developed by SIG Sauer, was also highlighted with a thermal comparison shot apparently showing the SLX side-by-side with a ‘standard suppressor’ to show how much less ‘harmful blowback of gases’ there is with the new SLX. The SLX suppressors reportedly achieve low flash and noise signatures and have a quick detach design.
SIG Sauer also put together a video commemorating the shipping of the NGSW program prototypes. It features images of the team behind the design and production of the SIG prototypes as well as photos and videos of the weapons being assembled and packaged for shipping.
The defense industry has rightly been designated an essential industry and work has continued despite the current Coronavirus Pandemic. The US Army gave the companies involved in the program a 30-day extension to the deadline for shipping the prototypes, as we can see in the photo and video above the whole team involved in producing the guns are wearing masks as a COVID-19 precaution. Ron Cohen said, “I would be remiss if I did not recognize the hard work and dedication of the entire team who worked tirelessly in these unprecedented times, in the face of a pandemic, to deliver the SIG SAUER NGSW system to the U.S. Army.”
“I am very proud that every component of the SIG SAUER Next Generation Squad Weapons system was manufactured at our SIG SAUER facilities in New Hampshire and Arkansas and is,” Cohen emphasised, “entirely American made. Our engineers have worked in concert to optimize the system, ensuring that every component is synchronized, and our soldiers are equipped for the demands of the modern battlefield.”