As part of its transition from its existing small arms to the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) the US Army has awarded a contract to build a new ammunition facility in Missouri.

The operating contractor for the state-owned Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (LCAAP), Olin Winchester, will receive support in constructing a building for ammunition production.

The production building and process support systems are designed to accommodate best-practice manufacturing methodologies, processes and equipment that provide flexible, sustainable and maintainable operations and ensure manufacturing readiness to meet future requirements.

Following an 18-month-long design activity, this contract is led by the Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition and Olin Winchester.

After construction, the facility will house modern manufacturing systems designed for large scale production of all aspects of the NGSW’s ammunition, including metal parts manufacturing, energetic operations for loading and charging ammunition, product packaging, process quality controls and testing laboratories, maintenance operations, and general-use administrative areas.

Design rendering of the planned NGSW Ammunition Manufacturing Facility. Credit: US Army.

NGSW programme

The US Army is currently transitioning from the M4/16 rifle and the 249 light machine gun to the XM5 and XM250 weapons, which it has designated the NGSW programme.

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The new weapon system will use the 6.8-millimetre (mm) family of ammunition instead of the 5.56mm ammunition the M4/M16 uses. The 6.8mm has proven to outperform most modern 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition against a full array of targets.

In April 2022, the New Hampshire-based weapons manufacturer Sig Sauer was awarded the contract over a ten-year period. This followed a rigorous 27-month prototyping and evaluation effort that included numerous technical tests and Soldier touch points of three competing prototype systems.

The new ammunition facility will position the US Army with additional capacity in small arms ammunition – a major issue amid the tense global security environment in which militaries around the world struggle to meet demand.

For the first time, the EU Commission and the European Defence Agency unveiled their Defence Industrial Strategy in which it has put forward longer term objectives to improve European competitiveness in the global defence industry.

This will expand the continent’s defence consumer base beyond the shorter-term policies and investment seen since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago, such as the Act in Support of Ammunition Production, which mobilised a €500m ($545.4m) stockpiling ammunition for Member States.