General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems has partnered with Smith & Wesson to compete for the US Army's modular handgun system (MHS) programme.
The MHS programme involves the development of a new military standard side arm to replace the army's existing Beretta M9 semi-automatic pistol.
The companies are offering a modular handgun system based on Smith & Wesson's M&P Polymer pistol platform.
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems medium-calibre ammunition and weapons vice-president and general manager Tim McAuliffe said: "This partnership combines General Dynamics' proven legacy in manufacturing military armaments with Smith & Wesson's extensive experience in designing and manufacturing firearms for commercial applications.
"General Dynamics' extensive background in winning and managing military contracts brings proven leadership to the venture and by joining together, we will use our combined knowledge and expertise to bring this unique capability to the US military to better equip the warfighter."
A recently released army MHS solicitation draft identifies design and performance requirements for a new modular handgun system that can be easily adjusted to fit all hand sizes and which is optimised for improved gun, ammunition and magazine performance.
Smith & Wesson's M&P Polymer Pistol has been designed with a reinforced polymer chassis, superior ergonomics, ambidextrous controls and proven safety features, among others.
It is suitable for MHS requirements and exceeds the military's expectations in terms of performance, reliability and durability.
A formal competition is expected to start in January 2015, with deliveries of the new systems expected to start in 2017.
Image: A US soldier fires his M9 pistol at the Udairi Range Complex in Kuwait. Photo: courtesy of Maj. Myles B. Caggins III, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division public affairs.