General Dynamics (GD) Armament and Technical Products has been awarded a contract for conversion of the US Army's existing .50 calibre M2 heavy barrel (M2HB) machine guns to the M2A1 configuration.
Under the $6.9m contract awarded by the US Army Tank Automotive Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command, the company will convert a total of more than 3,500 M2HB guns to the M2A1 standard.
Featuring a quick change barrel (QCB) kit, the M2A1 offers performance, safety and handling improvements, enabling the modified gun to provide fixed headspace and timing configurations, flash suppressor and a removable carrying handle, thereby increasing its performance.
The army delivered the M2A1 standard guns for the first units, which helped eliminate operator error, decrease muzzle flash and streamline barrel changes, making it easier and safer to use.
The first conversion batch was completed at the Anniston Army Depot in 2010.
M2HB machine gun is an automatic, belt-fed, air-cooled, spring and recoil-operated weapon, designed to provide close range fire support against surface and air targets in combat operations.
The gun can be mounted as the primary or secondary armament on various vehicles and watercraft to effectively engage enemy infantry, unarmoured or lightly armoured vehicles and boats, light fortifications and low-flying aircraft.
Production work under the contract will be carried out at the company's facility in Saco, Maine, and is scheduled to complete in 2013, while programme management will be performed at General Dynamics' Williston Technology Center in Vermont, US.
The M2HB gun was used extensively by the US during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The company has delivered more than 25,000 guns to the US Department of Defense (DoD) since 1979.
Image: General Dynamics' M2 heavy barrel (M2HB) machine gun in use with the US Armed Forces. Photo courtesy of: Nemo5576.