Author Topic: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun  (Read 52943 times)

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Offline Matt_Fisher

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Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« on: July 23, 2010, 08:06:12 »
http://www.military.com/news/article/new-ammo-slashes-machine-gun-weight.html

Army Engineers at the Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.-based Joint Service Small Arms Program office have been working for the last six years on a radical approach to ammunition and weapons that has the potential to cut the weight Soldiers carry by nearly 50 percent.

Researchers are using so-called "cased telescoped" ammunition that does away with the propellant-holding brass shell and replaces it with a lightweight plastic case. So far the program, dubbed Lightweight Small Arms Technologies, has built three M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon-like machine guns and fired more than 10,000 of the lighter rounds with the same rate of fire and accuracy of a standard SAW.

"This delivers the same lethality as the systems you already have, but it's a lot more effective because it's much lighter," said Korene Phillips, lead engineer for the LSAT program, in an exclusive interview with Military.com.

Engineers have also built a prototype M-4 that fires the lighter rounds. The experimental M-4 weighs about the same as a standard M-4 but has a 40-round magazine that's slimmer than the current one and straight instead of curved. And since half the weight of a legacy bullet is due to the brass case, a Soldier's load of more than 200 rounds in combat will drop substantially, Phillips said.

Born of the Army's "Advanced Combat Rifle" search in the 1980s, cased telescoped ammo and the much more technically complicated "caseless" ammunition were relegated to the laboratory after the Army shifted its gaze toward greater lethality rather than weight reduction, Phillips said. But with the U.S. military involved in two combat zones and a renewed emphasis on shaving pounds off a trooper's load, the Army decided to take another look at the decades-old technology.

"What we were trying to do back then was decrease load and increase lethality," Phillips said. "And we liked to joke that that was breaking the laws of physics."

With millions of dollars in Army research investment, the JSSAP office says it will be ready to put weapons in warfighters' hands by next year. Phillips said eight new SAWs will be built by AAI Corporation. She also said that the office plans to run an exercise with an infantry squad equipped with the new lightweight machine gun and 100,000 rounds of cased telescoped ammo.

It's unclear what unit will get the experimental weapons for the test, which is slated for the summer of 2011, but the Army, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command are playing a key role in LSAT development, Phillips said.

"We're just trying to get a comparison of the squad as it is today with the M-249" and the experimental weapon, Phillips said. "Our plan is just to replace the M-249 in the squad with the [new] weapon and see where that gets you with improvements in your time to complete the mission and your ability to complete the mission."

The standard SAW gunner's load comes in at around 40 pounds, Army officials say, which includes the weapon itself and 600 rounds of ammo. The experimental machine gun with cased telescoped ammo load comes in at 24 pounds.

The new cased telescope-firing SAW looks almost the same on the outside as its M-249 counterpart but uses a rotating action and a novel feed system that fires a standard 5.56mm ball projectile and ejects the plastic case and link from its own port.

"One of the other things we've completely avoided in this system is the failure to feed and failure to eject," Phillips added. "In your SAW system, that's where you primarily have failures and malfunctions."

The M-4 variant of the cased telescope rifle has a so-called "rising chamber" action that's fed ammo from the rear -- what JSSAP engineers jokingly call a "fauxpup" after the so-called "bullpup" operating systems popular with European small arms. It looks similar to a standard M-4, but the operating system actually gives the experimental rifle an extra four inches of barrel length, Phillips said.

While the cased telescoped ammo is almost ready for prime time, the more exotic caseless rounds still need some work, Phillips explained. Testers are having problems keeping the rounds -- which are essentially hard, molded propellant with an embedded 5.56 mm bullet -- from degrading in high heat. They're also expensive, hard to make, and tough on the shooter.

"We haven't had any volunteers to shoulder fire it," Phillips joked, adding her office hasn't gotten the approval to take it to the range. Excessive smoke, inexact timing and other uncertainties have kept the weapon attached to a bench.

"Nobody's knocking on my door asking to shoot it," she added.

Despite the immaturity -- and danger -- of the caseless technology, the Marine Corps is spearheading the research into the ammo because of its advantages in weight and size.

"It's a significantly smaller round of ammunition," Phillips said. "So from a Marine perspective, that's a big deal because of the way they travel."


With the US Army doing the bulk of the developmental work on 5.56 case telescoped ammo which will require an entirely new operating system for magazine and belt fed weapons, as well as an entirely new tooling set and manufacturing process for the ammunition itself, is this the time that we should be looking at alternative calibres to 5.56?  i.e. 6.5mm?

Alot of the arguments against a calibre conversion is the high cost of retooling industry and replacing weapons systems.  If there is a more effective intermediate calibre which could possibly replace both 5.56 and 7.62 wouldn't the LSAT program be the time and place to do so?
« Last Edit: July 23, 2010, 08:09:49 by Matt_Fisher »

Offline George Wallace

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2010, 08:15:05 »
 ;D

http://www.military.com/news/article/new-ammo-slashes-machine-gun-weight.html

........... And since half the weight of a legacy bullet is due to the brass case, a Soldier's load of more than 200 rounds in combat will drop substantially, Phillips said.


As soon as I read that, I read: "Now the Basic Combat Load for the soldier can be increased to 400 rounds."     >:D

Interesting read.  Looks like they still have some serious hurdles to get over; smokeless, degredation of propellant, etc.
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Offline Hamish Seggie

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2010, 08:20:25 »
;D

As soon as I read that, I read: "Now the Basic Combat Load for the soldier can be increased to 400 rounds."     >:D

Interesting read.  Looks like they still have some serious hurdles to get over; smokeless, degredation of propellant, etc.

And when this ammo is adpoted (if) that's exactly what will happen.
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Offline Redeye

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2010, 10:43:38 »
Reminds me of the old joke about how technology has improved the lot of the infantry.  "In the old days, I had to carry around 100lbs of really heavy stuff.  Now I get to carry 100lbs of really light stuff!"

And when this ammo is adpoted (if) that's exactly what will happen.
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Offline Carcharodon Carcharias

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2010, 15:29:09 »
IMHO, this will go the same way as caseless ammo.
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Offline DexOlesa

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2010, 15:50:16 »
Actually the article states this stuff IS as old as caseless ammo and DID go the way of caseless ammo, but they are trying it again along with caseless ammo.

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2010, 16:09:56 »
Actually the article states this stuff IS as old as caseless ammo and DID go the way of caseless ammo, but they are trying it again along with caseless ammo.

Born of the Army's "Advanced Combat Rifle" search in the 1980s, cased telescoped ammo and the much more technically complicated "caseless" ammunition were relegated to the laboratory after the Army shifted its gaze toward greater lethality rather than weight reduction, Phillips said. But with the U.S. military involved in two combat zones and a renewed emphasis on shaving pounds off a trooper's load, the Army decided to take another look at the decades-old technology

Seriously mate, do you think I am stupid?  ::) I can read, I am SIMPLY stating this will go no where part II, one does not have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2010, 16:14:09 by Carcharodon Carcharias »
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2010, 16:15:48 »
Seen some of the modern blackpowder stuff? It's basically caseless ammo with a plastic cup to hold the bullet, out of the rear of the cup is a plastic rod which you slide made to fit compressed powder "donuts" onto the rod, then ram the works into the muzzle and add cap.

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2010, 16:28:58 »
My thoughts always were that we were fine with the M16 FOW in 5.56, until such time as some revolutionary type of ammo came out.

If this ammo is it and can work with near 100% reliability and needs a new weeapon system for it to work, what caliber do we want? (yeah, I know, that old debate again.)
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Offline Illegio

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2010, 02:53:10 »
Brits are already re-arming the Warrior MICV family of vehicles with a new turret featuring a 40mm CTA cannon, so certainly someone believes the concept is sound. I don't see the caseless concept taking off anytime soon in small arms, but the CTA concept has a great deal to recommend it over the current generation of ammunition with relatively little risk, compared to caseless designs. We jumped from 7.62 to 5.56 for less.
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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2010, 08:34:02 »
CTA is going to be big...

  It may take a trickle down effect from Vehicles, but there is a lot of efforts being placed on this in small arms currently.

The advantages is offers both from cleaner weapons, and weight reductions are extremly important when more and more Armies are dismounting.
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Offline 40below

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2010, 09:37:56 »
Kit Up has been on this issue like a fat kid on a donut and got their hands on the LSAT test shoot vid. It's here:

http://kitup.military.com/2010/07/lsat-test-shoot-video.html

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2010, 20:50:26 »
This sounds like a Generational change as opposed to an Incremental change.  Looking forward to more info.

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Offline Tango18A

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2010, 10:14:16 »
This will allow us to upgrade the 25mm Turret to a larger cannon without sacrificing space in the turret, when the equipment becomes available.

Offline George Wallace

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2010, 10:17:22 »
This will allow us to upgrade the 25mm Turret to a larger cannon without sacrificing space in the turret, when the equipment becomes available.

How much larger a breech and recoil system can this turret take?
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Offline Tango18A

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2010, 10:19:36 »
It might be possible to go to 35mm with the CTA. But will the trunion be able to withstand the force??? I don't know.

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2010, 10:21:51 »
I wonder how this would effect hard extractions where on a traditional casing would be bent or otherwise mis-shappen but the case itself not breached.  If this one is made of plastic would the propellent not be spilled everywhere?
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Offline Tango18A

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2010, 10:25:09 »
A shotgun hull is mostly plastic, and i haven't seen too many of those ripped open. But there a less forces present on a shotgun in regards to the cycling of the action then there are on support weapons firing from a belt.

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2010, 15:24:45 »
I am sure you have seen 7.62mm rounds that are crushed and bent from the internals of the gun and that was sort of what I was thinking of as I wrote that.
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Offline Tango18A

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2010, 15:29:06 »
Yes, I have. I hope they have made a hard enough plastic that is lighter than the brass casing. I just don't know how well the extended troop trials have gone. The article doesn't state any failures between rounds.

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2010, 19:43:37 »
The way CTA rounds are presented basically makes that highly unlikely (but everything is possible I suppose).

The CTA rounds I have are a thick polymer 'rimless'- on many designs they use a revolving chamber (which helps cooling) and empties are pushed forward when the new round is inserted, then the chamber rotates 180 and is fired etc.

CTA crew served/vehicle systems I have seen would require a rather extensive redesign of the LAV - they have been more optimized for RWS, or A/C mounting.


 
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Offline Tango18A

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2010, 20:30:28 »
I think the main focus of the CCV project was to go with a RWS system. The less heads poking through the roof the better was their mindset. I like to have my head out of a hatch though, don't have to worry so much about a dirty objective lens. Just my dirty mind. >:D

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2010, 20:43:53 »
I hear you.
 I prefer to be out smelling and seeing.

  However from a crew protection standpoint - properly done RWS's can really be a lifesaver.

 I think one of the biggest boons to a CTA LAV cannon would be increased ammo capability.

Imagine a 300rd primary bin, and 120 rd secondary, and a thousand round coax bin...

That said I am a foot guy, so my primary interest is to be able to field a 7.62mm NATO performance round (range and energy) in a 16" carbine that does not have a dramatic load weight increase over 5.56mm

The idea of the 7x46 Murray in a CTA round intruiges me.

 I think a CTA system could be almost "clean gun' tech, in that it would be extremly low maintenance.








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Offline Tango18A

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Re: Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) Machine Gun
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2010, 20:52:33 »
What about breach tolerances? Would they not be too tight for a sandy enviorment?