LWI - Land Warfare

US Army funds HK417 as squad marksman rifle

13th February 2018 - 16:49 GMT | by Grant Turnbull in London

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The US Army has announced funding for the acquisition of over 5,000 rifles as part of its Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDMR) programme, which will utilise the Heckler & Koch HK417.

The FY19 Budget revealed the SDMR as a new start programme for the next fiscal year with $46.2 million currently assigned. This funding will support the procurement and fielding of 5,180 7.62mm off-the-shelf rifles according to budget documentation.

Unit cost will be close to $9,000 a rifle accounting for the hardware itself, programme management, training and logistics support.

The new start programme could be overlooked as it is filed as a Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) line item, not as the SDMR.

However, this reflects that the acquisition of a new 7.62x51mm rifle for the SDMR role will effectively be an acquisition of the Heckler & Koch HK417 (known in German Army service as the G28) that was selected for the CSASS programme, where it is designated the M110A1.

H&K was awarded a $44.5 million contract in 2016 for the manufacture of 3,463 rifles for the CSASS programme.

A spokesperson for the US Army’s Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier confirmed to Shephard that the SMDR will be a CSASS derived weapon that features a different optic and is optimised to fire the Advanced Armor Piercing Round, or ADVAP.

The developmental ADVAP is currently designated the XM1158 and has also seen initial FY19 funding to the tune of $25 million for over a million rounds (a cool $15 dollars per round). Current plans indicate that the ADVAP will not be fielded at the same time, potentially a year later than the SDMR, meaning that currently-fielded 7.62mm rounds will be used that have less range.

The SDMR will provide infantry, scout and engineer squads with the capability to engage enemy personnel with accurate rifle fire. It is seen as a key part of modernising soldier lethality and giving frontline troops punchier 7.62mm weapons that can penetrate advanced body armour fielded by the likes of Russia and China, something traditional 5.56mm NATO rounds cannot do.

At a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Lt Gen John Murray, the army’s Deputy Chief Of Staff, G-8, singled out the SDMR as filling a ‘near-term gap’ when it ...

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