Textron Systems' light armaments team has secured a contract to continue its development of lightweight, cased-telescoped (CT) weapons and ammunition products for the US Army.
Awarded by the Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium (DOTC) and the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), the $5.7m contract covers the development of a CT carbine, as well as 7.62mm CT ammunition and a machine gun operating mechanism.
The CT ammunition uses a plastic casing to significantly reduce weight compared to legacy ammunition, while maintaining the same performance.
The team has recently completed development of the flagship 5.56mm CT light machine gun, as part of the lightweight small arms technologies (LSAT) programme, which provides up to a 40% or 20lb weight reduction compared to existing technology.
The gun was demonstrated at technology readiness level seven during the army's recent dismounted non-networked experiment at Fort Benning, Georgia, US.
Leveraging the gun's design, the team also developed a range of lightweight, 5.56mm CT weapons, including a compact light machine gun with a quick-change, 12in barrel and folding buttstock, as well as the operating mechanism for a carbine variant.
Primarily developed for close-quarters applications, the gun was also tested by the US Army Special Operations Command in 2012.
In addition, Textron created an innovative caseless ammunition design, which provides even greater weight reduction than the current technology.
Under the agreement, the team, comprising Alliant Techsystems (ATK), ARES Incorporated, MSC Software and St Marks Powder, aims to use the success of previous designs to extend CT weapon and ammunition technologies to additional calibres and weapon configurations.
Work under the contract is scheduled to be carried out over the next two years.
Image: A US soldier performs a test shooting of a prototype cased-telescoped light machine gun. Photo: courtesy of the US Army.