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Army is testing rifles that fire as powerfully as a tank

Soldier Holding Rifle (Pexels/Released)
December 14, 2018

By 2020, the Army plans to start using new 6.8mm rifles that are said to be “better than any weapon on earth today, by far.”

Army Chief of Staff. Gen. Mark Milley said the new assault rifle “will tear through any body armor with the pressure of a battle tank, strike from unprecedented ranges, and withstand the rigors of weather, terrain and soldier use,” Fox News reported.

The Army claims that the 6.8mm rifle will be a huge upgrade to the outdated M16 and M4 weapons in terms of capabilities.

“The chamber pressure for the standard assault rifle is around 45 KSI [kilopound per square inch], but we’re looking for between 60 and 80 KSI … the chamber pressure when an M1 Abrams tank fires is on that order. We’re looking to reach out around 600 meters and have lethal effects even if the target is protected by body armor,” Col. Geoffrey A. Norman said, according to the Business Insider.

The 6.8mm rifle, which is part of the “Next Generation Squad Weapon program,” was originated by the Army, but Marines and special operations forces also contributed to the development.

The 6.8mm rifle is called the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) and will “weigh less, shoot farther, and pack more punch than the service’s existing infantry weapons,” Norman said.

The weapon’s purpose is to arm soldiers with a weapon that will fire “a small bullet at the pressure equivalent to what a tank would fire.”

Current weapons used are more geared for city settings of Iraq and Syria when they really needed to be upgraded to handle areas such as the open territory of Afghanistan and “near-peer threats like Russia.”

Norman said, “For the past 10 or 15 years, we’ve been really focused on the requirement of lethal effects against unprotected targets. Now we’re looking at near-peer threats like Russia and others. We need to have lethal effects against protected targets and we need to have requirements for long-range lethality in places like Afghanistan, where you’re fighting from mountaintop to mountaintop over extended ranges.”

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt said the more sophisticated weapons will require advanced soldier training.

The NGSW system is currently being tested and under evaluation by the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team at Fort Benning, Georgia.

It will “head downrange with the 7.62mm XM11158 Advanced Armor Piercing (ADVAP) round while the service hacks away at a specialized round built to achieve the proper balance between range and lethality.”

Norman said, “The challenge of the 5.56mm is that it doesn’t have enough mass [to defeat enemy body armor]. But the challenge with 7.62mm ammo is that it has too much mass and not enough propellant. The right solution is somewhere between the two, where you have enough mass to penetrate but you’re still moving fast enough.”