Robert Douglas at Backroad Blog forwarded me an article on the XM8 from Inside Defense that someone sent him. It’s a couple of weeks old, but I hadn’t been able to see the whole article, so I really appreciate the chance to look it over. It’s entitled ARMY REORGANIZES PLAN TO FIELD NEW FAMILY OF INFANTRY WEAPONS.
Some of the info in the article has surfaced previously, maybe because others have access to Inside Defense, but it’s got some good stuff which I’ll excerpt here in case you’ve missed it:
After an Army review this week, officials decided the XM-8 carbine program
should head to a “milestone C” review in February 2005. Initially, officials
planned to make a full-rate production decision in September 2004.
The Army wants to field the entire family of XM-8 rifles and not just the
first three variants — the compact, the carbine and the sharpshooter. The
new schedule accounts for the automatic rifle, which had not been scheduled
for fielding until FY-06.
Testing was originally planned for spring 2005; now, Smith said he expects
to see a prototype of the automatic this summer or early fall and testing to
begin this fall.
At this point, the weapons must complete testing. The XM-8 recently
underwent cold weather tests in Alaska. Resulting changes are due to appear
in a modified rifle this May.
The modifications include ergonomic alterations, such as changing button
positions on the sight, which will make the weapon more user friendly, as
well as performance enhancements, such as extending the life of the battery
to 400 hours from 200.
I’ve tried to find out which brigades would be getting the XM8 for large-scale testing, but according to this article they haven’t been determined yet.
During the summer of 2005, a team of officials from program executive office
soldier weapons, sustainment specialists from Rock Island, IL, and officers
from TRADOC will replace a unit‘s weapons, magazines, manuals and
accessories with the XM-8 and begin training the soldiers. The process
should wrap up in September 2005, Smith said.
Although many divisions are calling to see whether they will be picked to
receive the weapons first, Smith said the decision has not been made. The
only hint is that the test would be conducted on a brigade combat team with
a Stryker brigade as one possibility, he said.
So a Stryker brigade may be one of the first to get a crack at the new rifles? Not a bad idea. I would suggest that one brigade on the way to Iraq get the rifles to give them a real workout in the real world. The other brigade should be one not in the line of fire, perhaps one of the 2nd ID brigades in South Korea, to allow more focus on testing and running the weapon through the paces without the nagging distraction of enemy fire to foul things up.
And I would like to extend a personal “thank-you” to Robert at Backroad Blog. This is the second time he’s forwarded XM8 material to me, and I really appreciate it. If you don’t check out Backroad Blog regularly, give it a look. Definitely worth a bookmark.