Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW)
Selectable Assault Battle Rifle (SABR)
The Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) program as part of the weapon system components for the Objective Force Warrior program, intended to be an outgrowth of the Land Warrior program. Program guidelines were derived from the Small Arms Master Plan (SAMP) and Joint Service Small Arms Master Plan (JSSAMP). OICW-ATD was managed by JSSAP and would provide superior firepower to the US Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Special Operations Command, Navy, and Coast Guard.
Key program capabilities included: a 500 percent increase in probability of incapacitation, new soldier capability to defeat targets in defilade, an effective range to 1,000 meters, day/night fire control and wireless weapon interface, a substantial weight reduction, and an ergonomic design. Technology advancements would include: Weapon recoil mitigation, fuzing miniaturization and accuracy, warhead performance and packaging, target acquisition and man in the loop, laser ranging accuracy at extended ranges, and extensive composite use.
The system would feature a lethality capability consisting of the ability to fire 20mm High-Explosive Air-Bursting (HEAB) projectiles and 5.56mm kinetic energy (KE) projectiles. The weapon would less than 33 inches in overall length and less than 12 pounds in total weight. The 20mm component would have a rate of fire of 10 rounds per minute, while the 5.56mm component would have a rate of fire equivalent to the M16A2 rifle. The weapon's effective range range would be 1,000 meters for the 20mm component and equal to or better than that of the M16A2 for the 5.56mm component. Both components would be combined into a single weapon, with a single trigger control for both barrels and ambidextrous controls. The system would be equipped with a simple red dot day/night sighting system, as well as laser adjustment for targets in buildings and in defilade. The system would also feature a unique recoil mitigation and provide tactical operational awareness through the use of real time television feed into the weapon's optics.
The initial OICW-ATD program schedule consisted of 5 phases. Phase 1, the design study, was complete by December 1994. Phase 2, the system design and subsystem demonstration was complete by February 1996. Phase 3, the prototype system demonstration was planned for fall 1997 or no later than January 1998. Phases 4 and 5, the hardware build and live-fire simulations were to begin in April 1998. The expectation was that fielding of first unit equipped would cocur in 2005.
The OICW would dramatically increase soldier survivability, have the ability to defeat enemies in defilade, and be 5 times more effective at twice the range of existing conventional infantry systems. Specific goals included demonstration of hit probability greater than 50 percent out to 500 meters and 30 to 50 percent out to 1,000 meters. Effectiveness against personnel and light armor targets, given a hit, was to be greater than those of the 40mm M433 High Explosive Dual Purpose cartridge fired from the M203 grenade launcher and the 5.56mm M855 ball cartridge fired from the M16A2 rifle. Specific goals include a 50 percent probability of incapacitation to 300 meters (point target) and a 20 percent probability of incapacitation to 300 meters (defilade target) in FY99.
OICW would give the infantry soldier a capability to acquire targets and precisely detonate an air bursting 20mm projectile approximately 1 meter over the threat. It would also be able to detonate on impact. These capabilities were required out to ranges 2-3 times the effective range of existing M16/M4/M203 systems, or up to 10 football fields. The system would provide both an integrated day and night battlefield sight capability allowing effective weapon usage 24 hours a day.
The OICW's kinetic energy component would fire the same round as an M16A2, 5.56x45mm, from its lower barrel, and could fire in either a single shot or a 2-round burst. The weapon's upper barrel would fire a 20mm high-explosive air-bursting fragmentation round at a distance of more than half a mile away. A 6-round magazine in the butt of the rifle would hold the high explosive rounds. The 20mm round had a dual warhead, making it lethal on both sides and giving it complete coverage after detonation. The round was air-bursting, and exploded at 1.5 meters above the target. This would work especially well if the enemy was hiding behind an object or was lying prone on the ground.
The OICW would feature a "window" firing mode for the air-burst component that could be used to reach the enemy inside a building. A normal round would explode upon impact of a window, limiting its destructive power. In the window mode, once the round struck the window it delayed exploding by a few milliseconds so the lethal area was increased inside a room. The round could also go through thin metal with the same effect. A safety mode did exist, in that the rounds had an 8-second self-destruct mode. After being fired, the round would explode in 8 seconds regardless of impact. This insured that no unexploded rounds were left on the battle field.
The sight of the OICW would be equipped with Direct View Optics with Video Enhancements. The Direct View Optics would be similar to looking at a television screen. The image could be magnified 3 times and would include an electronic compass on the screen. The system was to be rugged enough to withstand military use, including airborne and shipboard operations without degradation of the OICW's performance. The OICW would be effective from the standing, crouching, kneeling, sitting, prone, and foxhole positions.
The OICW weapon would consist of 2 separable subsystems, a high-explosive (HE) module, and a kinetic-energy (KE) module, with a single trigger and selector switch that operated both subsystems and interacted with the Target Acquisition/Fire Control System (TA/FCS) automatic fuze programming. The KE module would utilize standard 5.56mm ammunition and have semi-automatic and burst modes equivalent to the M4 carbine. The HE subsystem would fire the High-Explosive Air-Burst (HEAB) ammunition in 4 fuzing modes. The weapon would be as reliable as the M16 rifle/M4 carbine.
The full-solution fire control would begin with the soldier lasing to the target for a range reading. The range would then feed into the ballistic computer, and the data would be transmitted to the HEAB round inductively. The fire control system would provide the appropriate adjusted aim point for the target to the chambered round. The round would then be fired and explode at the precise range over the target with devastating effect. The system would provide greater than 5 times the lethality at twice the range of existing conventional weapon systems and, at the same time, reduce soldier combat exposure time, enhancing survivability.
The ruggedized, compact, single, integrated full solution day/night target acquisition/fire control system (TA/FCS) would be capable of operations without environmentally caused degradation of performance. The TA/FCS would have a direct view powered optic mode, thermal sighting mode, and a television/camera mode all with automatic, ballistically adjusted reticles. It would include a laser range finder; a compass, cant and inclinometer; an environmental sensor suite; a combat identification module and an infrared aiming light; laser illuminator pointer; and embedded training. It would include automatic fuze programming to arm the HEAB in any of the following modes: burst, point detonating, point detonating delay and window (detonating delay after passing through a window). It would contain a full ballistic algorithm to facilitate accurate placement of the airburst munition on target incorporating data from environmental and attitude sensors.
The weight fielding goal of 14 pounds for the OICW was 10 to 30 percent less weight than the existing M16/M4/M203 systems. When comparable features such as Thermal Weapon Sight, Optic Sight, Rails, Aiming Light, Leaf Sight and Laser were added, the standard infantry soldier carried 15 to 19 pounds. This weight included only 1 30-round magazine of the 5.56mm and 1 round of 40mm high-explosive ammo. The OICW's 20mm HE round weighed only a quarter of a pound compared to the M203's 40mm round weight of one half of a pound, a 50 percent comparison weight savings with substantially more effectiveness. The 18 rounds of 40mm ammunition in a soldier's vest weighed 9 pounds. If a soldier was carrying 18 rounds of 20mm the weight was 4 and one half pounds.
The M203's 40mm combat round costs approximately $20. The OICW's 20mm round was projected in FY99 to be $20-$30 each. Cost effectiveness was a critical measurement to consider. Given the OICW's significant edge in effectiveness (5 times more at 300 meters) an engagement cost for the existing M203 would be $80-100 to achieve what a single $30 OICW round could do.
Proposed OICW weapons were submitted by AAI Corporation and a partnership between Alliant Techsystems and Heckler and Koch. The ATK/HK weapon was later selected. On 4 August 2000, Alliant Techsystems Integrated Defense Company, LLC, of Hopkins, Minnesota, was awarded a $6,946,000 increment as part of a $95,426,483 cost-plus-award-fee contract for research and development to advance the state-of-the-art Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), Program Definition and Risk Reduction (PD&RR). Work would be performed in Hopkins, Minnesota, and was expected to be completed in the third quarter of FY04. Contract funds would not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. There was an announcement in the Commerce Business Daily on 5 Nov 1999, and one bid was received.
In September 2001, the decision to develop a Lightweight Weapon Family, expected to begin in FY02, was approved as part of the Objective Force Warrior Program. This program was initially intended as a companion program to the OICW, and would provide weight reduced replacements for existing M16, M4, and M249 type weapons in US Army service. In 2002, the US Army's Project Manager for Soldier Weapons issued an urgent requirement for the development of a lightweight carbine, to be designated as the XM8. The US Army's Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) contract was subsequently modified to include this weapon. The prime candidate was derived from the kinetic energy component of the OICW. The OICW's KE component was derived from Heckler and Koch's G36 assault rifle, as was their entrant for the lightweight carbine competition.
An early 2003 strategy change at the Program Executive Office, Soldier sped up the development of a potential replacement of the Army's assault weapons. They moved from an "evolutionary approach" to "spiral development." Under the evolution strategy, developers planned to build a complete system, then improve on it. The first built would be about an 80 percent solution. The second about 90 percent and the third would be 100 percent. That approach would take too long to get new technology in the soldiers' hands. Under the spiral approach, the team broke the system into subsystems. This allows the parts to mature individually before being integrated into a single system.
Following the increase of the caliber of OICW grenade launcher component from 20mm to 25mm (the same as used in the Objective Crew Served Weapon or OCSW), in July 2004 it was decided adopt the sprial approach and split the OICW system into 2 separate weapons, the 5.56mm KE component (OICW Increment 1), and the 25mm HEAB component (OICW Increment 2). Development of the complete weapon (OICW Increment 3) system was shelved, and would be resumed once the OICW Increment 1 and 2 components were developed, and weight constraints of entire system were met.
OICW Increment 1 was to consist of the winner of the XM8 competition, expanded into a family of weapons to replace the M16 rifle, M4 carbine, and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Existing shotguns would be replaced by a modular shotgun system mounted on the OICW Increment 1 winner . The OICW Increment 2 consisted of the HEAB componet of the OICW as a separate weapon system . The OICW Increment 3 was the complete OICW weapon . The M203 grenade launcher would be replaced by a combination of the OICW Increment 2 and OICW Increment 3. The M249 would also partially be replaced by a Light Machine Gun (JSSAP/PMSW), which was the successor to the M60 and M240.
The OICW Increment 1 built upon the fexibility of the existing M16 and M4 Modular Weapon Systems (MWS). It set the stage for future scalable, modular effects that would allow the tactical commander to tailor the capability and weight to meet the needs of any operation. It expected to serve as the foundation for a family of small arms that features commonality of parts, interface, and updated training that more closely matches tactical reality.
Variants of the OICW Increment 1 (carbine, special compact, designated marksman, and light machine gun) would fill a variety of roles throughout the existing and Future Forces and the US military at large. The OICW Increment I was expected to replace the M16/M4 family of small arms and other weapon requirements (M203 grenade launcher, M249 SAW and selected M9 pistols) throughout the US Army. Other US Armed Services or government agencies might also adopt it to suit their needs.
Subsequent increments (Increments II and III) would include new and advanced technologies that would enable the development and fielding of lighter weight and improved ammunitions, non-lethal munitions, precision high-explosive airburst (HEAB) munitions systems, embedded training and simulators, lighter-weight direct-view sights, improved multifunctional lasers, micro electro-mechanical systems, nano-explosives, maneuverable projectiles, advanced shaped-charge designs, electronic fusing and improved materials that will increase operational readiness and effectiveness as well as reduce total life-cycle costs.
The OICW Increment 1 would be compatible with the digital battlefield and would provide the lethality upgrade for the Land Warrior program. The Army was still completing capabilities documentation for this system as of 2004. By 2004, the OICW Increments and Associated Weapons were referred to as the "XM Weapons Family reflecting their experimental (XM) designations. This family included OICW Increment 1 (XM8), OICW Increment 2 (XM25), OICW Increment 3 (XM29), the proposed modular shotgun for OICW Increment 1 (XM26), the improved modular grenade launcher for OICW Increment 1 (XM320), as well as the Objective Crew Served Weapon (XM307 and XM312), and the Long Range Sniper Rifle (XM107).
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