The Army has elected to replace the aging 5.56 round with 6.8mm in both the Squad Automatic Rifle role and for the M4’s replacement.
Initially, the plan was to develop the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) and then take those innovations and incorporate them into the M4 replacement. But the Army Times reports that a Prototype Opportunity notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, calls on three manufacturers to provide their iterations of the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSAW-Rifle), the individual service rifle to be issued to troops.
The change in development strategy is to allow manufacturers to find ammo that is well-suited for both new weapons. According to a statement that Brigadier General Anthony Potts, leader of the Program Executive Office Soldier, gave the Army Times that the new approach is to develop both along the same path, with the same round, so that designers can find the best fit for ammo in both weapons, much like existing M4s and Squad Automatic Weapons both fire the 5.56mm.
Five companies, AAI Corporation Textron Systems, FN America LLC, General Dynamics-OTS Inc, PCP Tactical, and Sig Sauer, Inc, will submit prototypes of the NGSAR, with FN set to deliver two—likely because of the success of their M249 SAW. These are expected to be ready for testing by June.