Marine Corps Increasing Lethality Of Infantry Squad
by U.S. Marine Corps Matt Gonzales, Systems Command
Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager for Infantry
Weapons has begun a large-scale modernization project to increase
the lethality of the infantry squad.
PM IW strives to equip
and sustain the Marine Corps with fully-integrated infantry weapons,
optics and nonlethal systems for the Ground Combat Element.
The portfolio’s modernization efforts adhere to Commandant of the
Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s vision to redesign the force to
meet the challenges of a new age of great power competition. Through
PM IW, the Corps plans to field numerous new weapon and optic
systems over the next decade.
“This is the largest
modernization of the infantry squad in the last 25 years,” said Lt.
Col. Tim Hough, MCSC’s program manager for Infantry Weapons.
IW has begun the procurement of the Modular Handgun System, which
will replace all Marine Corps pistols. This striker-fired pistol
includes a plastic clip-on piece, enabling Marines to change grip
sizes to accommodate different hand sizes. The weapon is compatible
with the pistol-aiming module used by some units.
begin fielding the system this fiscal year.
“The MHS improves
on the precision and reliability of the legacy platforms, while also
bringing with it new, more effective ammunition,” said Maj. Mike
Brisker, weapons product manager for PM IW.
MCSC is expanding
the use of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. Originally fielded to
infantry units as a replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon
in 2011, the rifle received overwhelmingly positive feedback from
Marines. This feedback led to the Marine Corps’ decision to field
the M27 to all rifle platoons as their primary individual weapon.
May 9, 2020 - Lance Cpl. Mathew Graham, designated marksman, assigned to Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/8, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), fires an M27 infantry automatic rifle during a live-fire training range. The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group with embarked 26th MEU are conducting non-live fire and live-fire routine sustainment training in the United Arab Emirates to enhance critical mission sets for the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team operating within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nathan Reyes)
“We expect fielding of [the M27] to conclude by the end of this
fiscal year,” said Brisker.
PM IW is also enhancing its optic
systems. Fielded in spring 2020, the
Squad Binocular Night Vision
Goggle (SBNVG) is a helmet-mounted system that offers improved depth
perception, and the ability to detect and recognize targets in
extreme low light, in inclement weather and in the presence of
obscurants. The SBNVG provides additional capabilities that the
legacy system, the AN/PVS-14, lacked.
Since awarding a
contract in February 2020, PM IW plans to begin fielding the Squad
Common Optic in fiscal year 2021. The SCO includes a magnified day
optic, which improves situational awareness, decreases engagement
times and increases probability of hit.
“The Squad Common
Optic enables Marines to see farther and identify the enemy more
quickly,” said Hough.
MCSC is collaborating with other
services to field certain systems. For example, the Marine Corps
will partner with the Army to procure the Next-Generation Squad
Weapon system, intended to replace the M27 and become the primary
individual weapon for infantry units.
The NGSW will provide a
significant boost to the lethality of the individual soldier and
Marine. The weapon includes an optic/fire control system that will
incorporate a disturbed reticle to improve the shooter’s accuracy.
The Marine Corps could receive first deliveries of the NGSW as
early as fiscal year 2025, said Brisker.
Additionally, PM IW
and Fleet Marines are participating in the Army’s Integrated Visual
Augmentation System and the Enhanced Night Vision-Binocular programs
to help inform requirements and programmatic decisions in the
PM IW’s modernization efforts mirror MCSC’s mission to increase
lethality among Marines. The command is continuously striving to
equip Marines with the capabilities needed to successfully fulfill
missions. To meet this goal, PM IW will continue to solicit feedback
from Marines and industry.
“In line with the Commandant’s
Planning Guidance, we’re looking to lighten the load and increase
the overall lethality of Close Combat Forces—specifically infantry
Marines,” said CW4 David Tomlinson, an infantry weapons officer with
Tomlinson believes upgrading Infantry Weapon systems
will ultimately enhance performance on the battlefield and increase
survivability at a time when enemies are strengthening.
“These efforts show we are focused on staying abreast of
advancements that are coming quickly,” said Tomlinson. “It also
shows our desire to stay persistent, look toward the future, and
make sure our Marines receive the best [systems] we can buy.”
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