The Army's next machine gun could fire caseless ammo — and one of these companies might build it –

This isn’t your dad’s M16 rifle Textron Systems has created a new kind of cartridge and weapons to lighten the load and reduce recoil on machine guns and rifles. Military Times ground combat reporter Todd South breaks it down.

The replacement for the Army’s 5.56mm Squad Automatic Weapon could be an entirely new type of light machine gun that fires not only a different caliber round, but caseless ammunition.

That’s because one of the five companies recently awarded contracts to produce a weapon prototype by this time next year has been building weapons to fire that type of ammo for the past 14 years.

A notice posted Thursday included the identities of the five companies:

AAI Corporation Textron Systems in Hunt Valley, Maryland. FN America Columbia, South Carolina. General Dynamics-OTS Inc. PCP Tactical, LLC. in Vero Beach, Florida. Sig Sauer Inc. in Newington, New Hampshire.

The companies were awarded a contract to provide a prototype for the Army’s Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle, or NGSAR. The light machine gun is the first planned major overhaul of small arms in decades.

Based on the notice, it appears that FN America has been granted an award to provide two prototypes, while the other four companies will provide a single prototype.

Those prototypes will help the Army decide what’s possible given their extensive requirements for the new weapon. There will then be an open competition following those submissions, where more companies can try to get in on the weapon that will utlimately replace the M249 SAW and influence the M4 replacement, as well.

It is also the first weapon of

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