Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) Increment 1
5.56mm Modular Assault Weapon System
The 5.56mm Modular Assault Weapon System Family intended to be Increment 1 of the revised Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) program was an outgrowth of another US Army requirement to find a replacement for existing M4 type carbines. 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. In 2003, this was further ammended to expand the XM8 program into a multi-component weapon system, which included rifle and carbine elements. Though the term XM8 has subsequently been applied to the system as a whole, it technically only designated the lightweight carbine initially sought.
In November 2004 the US Army realeased a solicitation (Solicitation Number: W15QKN-05-X-0427) seeking sources for a Non-Developmental multi-configurable 5.56mm modular weapon system. The system was required to consist of 4 variants to include: Special Compact (SC), Carbine, Designated Marksman (DM), and Light Machine Gun (LMG) (or Auto Rifle). All variants were to function in both semi-automatic and fully automatic firing modes, with the LMG primary firing mode being fully automatic. Carbine, SC, and DM were required to have a maximum effective semi-automatic rate of fire greater than or equal to 45 rounds per minute without degrading reliability. The LMG's sustained rate of fire in the automatic mode would be at a minimum of 72 rounds per minute. The family of weapons were all to use the same ammunition. Additionally, all variants had to be be able to fire standard NATO issue ammunition (e.g., M855, Mk 262).
The SC variant would provide soldiers an enhanced close quarter battle capability providing effective lethality through 150 meters. The carbine was slated to be the standard issue individual combat weapon with an effective range through 500 meters. The DM variant would provide accurate fire at longer ranges, as well as offering an automatic rifle capability. The LMG variant would offer the role of suppressive fire through 600 meters.
Multi-configurable variants were required 80 percent parts commonality between the SC, Carbine, and DM variants and 50 percent parts commonality between the LMG and the other 3 variants. These were to reconfigurable at the unit level. Each variant would include a resident multi-purpose sight that enabled the warfighter to rapidly and effectively engage stationary and moving targets, both with reflexive fire at close ranges, and with precision fire out to the maximum effective range of the variant. The maximum effective range for the SC would be 150 meters, for the Carbine would 500 meters, for the DM would be 600 meters, and for the LMG would be 600 meters. For close range reflexive fire, the sight was to enable the warfighter to acquire, engage, and hit a close range (50 meters) target in less than 1.5 seconds.
The solicitation required various levels of soldier fired accuracy. For the SC the required probability of scoring a hit against a moving target was to be greater than 40 percent at 100 meters. For the Carbine it was required to be greater 60 percent at 150 meters. For the DM variant, it was required that the probability of a hit against a stationary target at 500 meters (to be the default zero for the weapon's optic) be greater than 50 percent. With regards to the LMG variant, the probability of a hit from the first 6 round burst against a single E-type silhouette target in an 8 target array, with the weapon sight zeroed to 300 meters, was to be greater than 4 percent at 600 meters.
The Carbine, SC, and DM were required to demonstrate 18,000 Mean Rounds Between Essential Function Failure (MRBEFF) for Class III malfunctions (i.e., for non-operator correctable malfunctions, which could cause the loss of essential functionality) and 2,300 MRBEFF for Class I and II malfunctions combined (Class I malfunctions were operator clearable within 10 seconds, whereas Class II malfunctions required more than 10 seconds to clear, but could be corrected by the operator with available equipment). The LMG had to demonstrate 18,000 MRBEFF for Class III malfunctions and 1,900 MRBEFF for Class I and II malfunctions combined. All variants were to have a minimum barrel life no less than 15,000 rounds.
Weights of each variant were required to be lower than existing comparable fielded systems. The Carbine would weigh less than a comparably equipped M4 Modular Weapon System w/M68 optic, Back-Up Iron Sight (BUIS), and PEQ-2A, which weighed approximately 8.11 pounds. The DM would weight less than a comparably equipped M16 Modular Weapon System, w/4x scope, BUIS, and PEQ-2A, which weighed approximately 9.39 pounds. The LMG would weigh less than an M249 with an M145 Optic, which weighed approximately 18.5 pounds. The Carbine total weapon length was required to not be longer than a fully extended M4 carbine, at 33 inches. The DM and LMG would not be longer than an M16 rifle at 39.6 inches and M249 SAW 40.75 inches respectively. The SC would take up no more room than a collapsed M4 at 29.75 inches.
All variants were required to be ambidextrous with respect to: fire mode selector switch, charging handle/forward assist, magazine release, and bolt catch engagement. The weapons were to be configured so that ejected cartridges were not channeled in the rear direction to interfere with left handed shooters. The adjustable stock would accommodate the 5th-95th percentile warfighter and be rugged enough to withstand the rigors of individual movement techniques.
The LMG would provide for a quick-change barrel able to be replaced by the operator in under 30 seconds without headspace or timing adjustments while under combat conditions. Due to excessive heat, the LMG barrel would provide the operator a visible means of determining cautionary heat levels.
The flash suppressor of all variants was required to allow for the attachment of an acoustic, flash, and blast suppressor that could be attached and detached by the operator by hand or with tools common to the warfighter's cleaning kit. All variants were to be capable of firing with the suppressor attached or detached. The suppressor was not to degrade overall accuracy. The flash suppressor would minimize or eliminate the kick-up and blowback of dirt and dust particles toward the operator. The flash suppressor would incorporate or act as a muzzle brake. The flash suppressor would be designed so the operator could perform maintenance and cleaning without the aid of special tools. All variants were also required to be capable of firing blank ammunition with a Blank Firing Adapter (BFA).
All OICW (Increment I) variants were required to incorporate a resident limited visibility fire control with infrared aiming light and illuminator. The weapon system boresight/zero retention was required to be maintained throughout each mission and while being transported by normal military means. The weapon's back-up iron sight was required to accurately engage targets out to 300 meters without removal of weapon's Multi-Purpose Sighting System (MPSS). The weapon system boresight/zero would be repeated when the OICW Increment I Limited Visibility Fire Control system was removed and reinstalled on the weapon.
Desired system attributes included a platform for Area Suppression Lethality Module (ASLM). The system would provide attachment points for a 40mm Grenade Launcher Module (GLM) and for a 12-gauge Shotgun Lethality Module (SGLM).
Production of 500 systems were required per the solicitation for test and evaluation. The approximate break down of this number was 140 Carbine, 140 SC, 160 DM, and 60 LMG. Production was expected to consist of approximately 200,000 systems over 6 years. Breakdown of variants was expected to occur at a ratio of 60 percent for Carbine, 20 percent for SC, 10 percent for DM, and 10 percent for LMG.
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