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Mk 48 7.62mm Lightweight Machine Gun

The Mk 48 Mod 0 is a 7.62mm lightweight machine gun developed to meet a US Special Operations requirement for a lightweight 7.62mm weapon to compliment the 5.56mm Mk 46 lightweight machine gun and replace the Mk 43 machine gun, that would retain the intrinsic functionality and reliability of the M240 machine gun.

"Big Brother" to the Mk 46 and derived from the same, the Mk 48 Mod 0 weighs 34 percent less than the M240B. It has a 70 percent parts commonality between Mk 46, M249 and M240, and is interoperable with the USSOCOM SOPMOD Kit. The weapon weighs 18.5 pounds, and is 39.5 inches long. The cyclic rate of fire of 711 rounds per minute. The weapon has a barrel life of 20,000 rounds, a 100,000 round receiver life, with a 11,500 mean rounds between failure reliability.

The 7.62mm Mk 43 machine gun within the Naval Special Warfare Inventory, derived from the M60 machine gun had proven to be less than reliable. Naval Surface Warfare users had lost confidence in the weapon and the weapon was otherwise becoming unsupportable. Therefore, a Mission Needs Statement (MNS)/Operation Requirements Document (ORD) was approved on 21 March 2001 for a new 7.62mm Lightweight Machine Gun (LWMG). The program had been an FY02 new start program, with a Foreign Comparative Test (FCT) proposal submitted on 1 February 2001. The 7.62mm LWMG program was patterned after the Mk 46 LWMG program. The ORD required 492 weapons.

The program issued a Draft Performance Specification in May 2001, and issued a Procurement Solicitation in October 2001. The program achieved Milestone A/B status on 5 October 2001. 3 Product Samples/Tech Proposals were recieved from each respondent to the solicitation in late March 2002. The contracts were awarded on 8 March 2002. Initial Technical Testing was conducted in March 2002. The Navy obtained Safety Release in May 2002, and performed an Operational Assessment in June 2002. The Navy awarded a contract for indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity, minimum quantity in September 2002. The Crane contract was valid through March 2007.

The weapon developed by Fabrique Nationale was eventually selected and designated as the Mk 48 Mod 0. Milestone C "Full Rate Production" was achieved on 21 March 2003. The weapon achieved initial operating capability in September 2003, with final operating capability coming in December 2003.

In 2006, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane awarded FN Manufacturing, Inc. a contract to retrofit and overhaul a number of weapon systems, including the Mk 48 Mod 0. The refurbished weapons were designated as Mk 48 Mod 1s and featured a number of differences, including the use of an improved bipod assembly. The weapon's forearm was changed to include the standard M249 style heat shield in the 12 o'clock position instead along with a tri-rail assembly, instead of the Mk 48 Mod 0's 4-sided rail interface.

On 21 March 2007, the Department of Defense announced that FN Manufacturing, LLC of Columbia, South Carolina was being awarded a maximum $11,499,999 firm-fixed-price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for the 7.62mm Mk 48 Mod 1 lightweight machine gun and auxiliary support equipment (barrels, bolt assemblies, slide assemblies and tool/gage kits). Work would be performed in Columbia, South Carolina, and was expected to be completed by March 2012. Contract funds would not expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, Indiana was the contracting activity.

In late 2009, it was reported that was being fielded by the US Army, giving infantry soldiers operating in Afghanistan lighter and more powerful capabilities in high altitudes. The Mk 48 Mod 0 significantly reduced the weight of existing M240B machine guns. Each US Army infantry brigade combat team was expected to eventually recieve 159 Mk 48 Mod 0s.

On 12 April 2010, the Department of Defense announced that FN Manufacturing, LLC of Columbia, South Carolina was being awarded an $11,500,000 firm-fixed-priced, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for refurbishing and overhauling of machine guns in support of multiple military agencies. The Mk 46 lightweight machine gun (LMG), Mk 48 LMG, and the M240 machine gun would be refurbished and or overhauled to a like new condition so the aforementioned weapons can be used in combat. The Mk 46 LMG, Mk 48 LMG, and the M240 machine gun would be used to support a wide array of US Armed Forces missions. Work would be performed in Columbia, South Carolina, and was expected to be completed by April 2015. Contract funds in the amount of $315,056 would expire at the end of the fiscal year. The contract was awarded on a sole-source basis with the solicitation being publicized on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, Indiana was the contracting activity.

The US Army originally began procuring the Mk 48 Mod 0 to replace the M240B until the M240L could be fielded. Enemy forces in Afghanistan possessing increased firepower and controlling extended ranges forced the replacement of the M249 SAW with the Mk 48 Mod 0 machine gun there by May 2010. Lethality trumped weight reduction when extended fires were required. Leaders subsequently wanted to adopt the Mk 48 Mod 0, while fully recognizing its reduced reliability with regards to the M240B/L.

On 29 November 2010, the Department of Defense announced that FN Manufacturing of Columbia, South Carolina was being awarded an $11,500,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the Mk 46 Mod 1 lightweight machine gun and Mk 48 Mod 1 lightweight machine gun, along with spare and repair parts in support of the US Special Operations Command. Work would be performed in Columbia, South Carolina, and was expected to be completed by November 2015. Contract funds in the amount of $25,000 would expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, Indiana was the contracting activity.




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