Is the US Army serious about replacing the M4?

According to a recent article on ArmyTimes.com the US Army is set to spend “over $30 million of taxpayer money” on a test program to find a replacement for the M4 Carbine.  However, the M4 itself will not be taking part in the tests – even though it sounds as if the test program sounds like its going to be more extensive, and different in some key ways, from any of the previous test programs that the M4 has been put through.

No wonder that some industry insiders, and bloggers, are openly questioning whether The Brass are serious about this.  Especially as even the Colonel in charge of the program is quoted as saying that a competitor will have to score “a knockout” in terms of demonstrating “measureable improvement” over the existing platform.  And while all of this is going on, the Army will also be proceeding with planned upgrade programs for M4’s already in service.  The Army calls this a “dual-path strategy” – others might call it “hedging their bets” or even “stacking the odds in favour of the house”.

Personally, I’m rather sceptical (perhaps even cynical) about the Army really being serious about replacing the M4 as a platform.  In my opinion, the fundamental, core, insurmountable issue is not with the rifle – its with its ammunition.  The 5.56x45mm round is the proverbial elephant in the room here, and unless the Army allows the inclusion of other calibres of ammunition in the test series as well, then what’s the point of simply replacing the rifle?  Yes, I know there are “better” rifles out there – but as Darren Mellors, Executive Vice-President of LWRC, says in the article, “better” simply might not be good enough.

"Better", but good enough to win?

Well, read the whole piece here and see what you think…



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