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PHOTOS: After more than 30 years of the M9, Air Force security forces start swapping out their handguns

Tech. Sgt. Brady Craddock, Air Force Gunsmith Shop noncommissioned officer in charge, fires an M18 handgun. The Air Force Security Forces Center, in partnership with the Air Force Small Arms Program Office, has begun fielding the new M18 Modular Handgun System to sfecurity forces units. (U.S. Air Force photo by Vicki Stein)

Air Force security troops are swapping out their 30-year-old pistols for a new 9 mm M18 SIG Sauer Modular Handgun System, the service has announced.

The M18 is set to replace the M9 Beretta — in service since 1985 — used by all security forces by next year.

“The M18 is a leap forward in the right direction for modernizing such a critical piece of personal defense,” Master Sgt. Casey Ouellette, 341st Military Working Dog Flight Chief at JB San Antonio-Lackland, said in a statement issued Monday. “It’s more accurate and, with a great set of night sights and with their high profile, follow-up shots have become easier than ever before.”

The Air Force Security Forces Center, in partnership with the Air Force Small Arms Program Office, has begun fielding the new M18 Modular Handgun System to Security Forces units. (U.S. Air Force photo by Vicki Stein)

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The new firearm is also projected to replace the M11-A1 Compact used by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Army M15 pistol for military working dog training.

More than 2,000 of the new pistols have been delivered to JB Andrews, Md., the Air Force Gunsmith Shop, Air Education and Training Command Combat Arms Apprentice Course at JB San Antonio-Lackland, regional training centers in Guam and Fort Bliss, Texas, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.

“Once all security forces units have been supplied the new weapon, we will supply special warfare Airmen, Guardian Angel/(pararescue) communities, OSI and other high-level users,” Master Sgt. Shaun Ferguson, Air Force Security Forces Center Small Arms and Light Weapons Requirements program manager, said in a statement. “Aircrew communities and other installation personnel will be issued the handgun as well based on requirements.”

The $580 million modular handgun system contract for the full-size M17 and the compact M18 was awarded to Sig Sauer in January 2017 and calls for delivery of 480,000 pistols over a ten-year period for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division began field testing the M17s and M18s in November 2017 at Fort Campbell, Ky.

The M17 or Modular Handgun System is the Army’s newest handgun currently being fielded to Soldiers. The 101st ABN DIV (AASLT), the word’s only air assault division, is the first unit in the Army to field the service’s new handgun. The M17 replaces the M9 pistol, the standard Army sidearm since 1986. The division received more than 2,000 M17s and M18s, the compact version of the M17, Nov. 17, and unpacked, inventoried, inspected and test fired a portion of the pistols, Nov. 27. It began fielding the MHS, Nov. 28. More expansive, battalion and brigade-level fielding initiatives will begin across the division in the coming weeks. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Stoffregen, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Public Affairs)

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