Weapons: August 17, 2005


SOCOM (U.S. Special Operations Command) has ordered another 1,100 Mk 46 Light Machine Guns. This weapon is a modified version of the American M249 squad automatic weapon (SAW), which is in turn a modified version of a European design from the Belgian firm FN. The Mk 46 is lighter (18 pounds loaded, with 200 rounds, compared to 22 pounds for the M249) and has the rail on top for the quick attachment of sights and such. The lighter weight is accomplished with a newly designed barrel, and removing various bits of hardware SOCOM doesnt want. Added is a forward pistol grip and a detachable bipod. SOCOM likes to use the Mk 46 more like a heavy assault rifle than a light machine-gun. U.S. Army Special Forces pioneered the development of the 5.56mm light machine-gun four decades ago, when they obtained the first experimental models for use in Vietnam. The Special Forces and SEALs were very impressed with the light weight, and heavy firepower, from these weapons. But it took over a decade for the regular army to adopt such a weapon, mainly in response to the success the Russians were having with their own version of the lightweight squad machine-gun.  SOCOM isnt getting 1,100 MK 46s right away. Its an open ended order, for a maximum of 1,100 weapons.




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