WASHINGTON -- Several prototypes of a next-generation squad weapon were advanced forward for testing and a request for proposal was sent out, said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley during a news conference at the Association of the U.S. Army's Annual Meeting and Exposition, Oct. 8.

Test firing of the weapon prototype indicates that it has an accurate range far in excess of any existing military rifle today, he said.

Additionally, it fires at speeds that far exceed the velocity of bullets today and it will penetrate any existing body armor or body armor expected to exist over the next 25 years, he added. This sophisticated weapon also has a sight system that integrates into Soldiers' gear that incorporates the latest in information technology.

Producing such a highly capable weapon is clearly in the realm of the possible, Milley noted, after speaking with engineers designing the prototypes. Right now, feedback from the prototypes looks like it will fire 6.8mm rounds.

Because the weapon is so capable and so sophisticated, "not surprisingly, we expect it to be expensive," he said. "So we're probably not going to field the entire Army with this weapon. We'll prioritize to those Soldiers in all components who are in close combat quarters-type duties such as Infantry, Armor, Cavalry, Rangers, Special Forces, combat engineers."

The Army is looking to buy somewhere in the range of 100,000 of these weapons initially and may expand that later on, he said. The Army hopes to have them out on the range at Fort Benning, Georgia, hopefully by next summer.

"We look forward to it. It's exciting. But we don't want to speak too much about its technical capabilities because our adversaries watch these things very closely, so we prefer to keep the technical details out of the news," he said. "The bottom line is we're committed to a new rifle and a new squad automatic weapon."