Textron Systems demonstrated a full spectrum of scalable lightweight small arms solutions at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida this week.
On show for the first time together, Textron’s display featured the 7.62mm Cased Telescoped (CT) Medium Machine Gun; 5.56mm CT Light Machine Gun; and 6.5mm CT Carbine. SOFIC also represented the first time the Medium Machine Gun had been exhibited ahead of its participation in a US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) requirement for a lightweight 7.62mm belt-fed weapon system.
According to company officials, the CT Medium Machine Gun has achieved Technology Readiness Level 5 ahead of its planned participation in the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment exercise in 2018.
Elsewhere, the CT Light Machine Gun now lies at TRL 7 following a live fire demonstration conducted alongside the Swedish Armed Forces at the Land Warfare Centre in Kvarn, Sweden. The weapon was tested against the 5.56mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) to “assess the weapon’s accuracy, mobility and maintainability”.
“Results showed that the 5.56mm CT Light Machine Gun required 30 percent less ammunition to accomplish a fire mission, provided a 20 percent tighter shot grouping and scored significantly higher soldier ratings for ease of maintenance, trigger operation, recoil reduction and burst fire control,” Textron Systems explained in a statement.
Textron Systems claimed how CT variants improved short range engagement times; mobility across the battlefield with decreased weight; and options for squads to carry greater amounts of ammunition.
The CT Light Machine Gun has also been tested by force elements from the US Naval Special Warfare Command, industry sources added. The CT Light Machine Gun and associated ammunition represent 40 per cent weight savings compared to the M249 and legacy ammunition, while the CT Medium Machine Gun provides a weight saving of 37 per cent compared to the legacy M240L variant.
“As we develop these weapons, our intent is to make them as lightweight as possible while also improving performance – these tests and developments validate that we are accomplishing these goals,” a company spokesperson continued to explain.
Weapon technology has emerged from the US Army’s Lightweight Small Arms Techologies (LSAT) concept which continues to cooperate with Textron Systems.
“Textron Systems’ CT programme seeks to enhance and improve upon the army’s current technology. To accomplish this, the Textron Systems 5.56mm and 7.62mm CT Machine Guns offer reduced system weight, lower ammunition weight, and increased lethality and reliability,” the company spokesperson added.
Textron also explained how 5.56mm and 7.62mm CT weapons could also fire both calibres with just a change of barrel, providing interoperability for armed forces seeking to reduce logistical footprints.
“Our system is scalable but we are not going to chase other calibres unless specified,” it was added.