FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Fort Campbell is testing some of the Army’s newest weapons that has the potential to redefine the capabilities of U.S. infantry forces. Last month Soldiers began field testing the Sig Sauer XM7 Rifle and XM250 Automatic Rifle before the they respectively replace the M4/M4A1 carbine rifle and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.
The contract, awarded by the U.S. Army, represents a significant investment in enhancing the Soldiers' effectiveness on the battlefield.
“The XM7 has no fixed front sight post, allowing for full length rail systems and eliminating a heat source that interferes with thermal weapon sights," said Communications Director Bridgett Siter, Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team at Fort Moore. “Both [Next Generation Squad Weapons] were purpose built and integrated to fire with visual and acoustic suppressors to improve survivability and command and control, and they have ambidextrous controls and improved operating systems. The XM250 incorporates a select fire system that allows automatic riflemen to maintain volume of fire in the team while improving their ability to do other tasks in semi-automatic mode.”
The transition isn't just about the introduction of new firearms; it also signifies a shift in ammunition caliber from the 5.56mm to the more potent 6.8mm. This decision was fueled by the need for ammunition with improved armor-penetrating capabilities, and it is expected to bring about a substantial boost in lethality.
“The move to 6.8mm improves the probability of hitting a target, increases resistance to wind drift and enhances performance against personnel and battlefield barriers,” Siter said. “The NGSW weapons make the [close combat force] Soldier more lethal and survivable.”
These new weapons are not only armed with the common 6.8mm ammunition, which includes government-supplied projectiles and specially designed cartridges, but they also come equipped with the cutting-edge XM157 Fire Control optic. Crafted by Vortex Optics, the optic is equipped with a laser range finder, ballistic calculator, visible and infrared lasers, and even a compass, providing Soldiers with unmatched precision and tactical advantages.
This pivotal shift to an "intermediate caliber" round marks a departure from the Army's reliance, for more than half a century, on the 5.56mm ammunition. The decision emerged from a comprehensive series of studies conducted, highlighting the limitations in range and energy delivery exhibited by the existing small-caliber squad-level weapons.
These groundbreaking weapons are designated for close combat forces, including infantry, combat engineers, and select enablers like scouts and special operations units. The integration of the 1-8x magnified XM157 fire control, with its advanced computer-assisted rifle optic, extends the weapons' range, bolsters accuracy, and delivers more formidable hits.
“The Army adjusts tactics, techniques and procedures frequently based on many variables. As the Army transforms the [close combat force] into the future, the concepts of NGSW and other efforts will be integrated to attain and maintain overmatch,” said Siter.
“These efforts combined will give the [close combat force] better ability to detect and engage targets; improved performance of ammunition against personnel and battlefield barriers; better [commad and control] and nighttime fighting capabilities; greater effects against targets in defilade; and more. As we experiment, test, and field systems — through Soldier touchpoints, formal test events, and tactical training — leaders at all levels will develop and adapt [tactics, techniques and procedures] to capitalize on these synergistic gains.”
Fort Campbell Garrison Commander Col. Chris Midberry and Command Sgt. Maj. Chad Stackpolehad experienced the new weapon system firsthand.
"It is an incredible piece of equipment, incredible lethality," he remarked. Looking ahead to the future, Midberry expressed anticipation about the widespread deployment of this advanced weaponry to units stationed at Fort Campbell. "I'm looking forward to getting it fielded to our units here on Fort Campbell."