Article Archive: Current 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
 Latest
 News
 
 Most
 Read
 
 Most
 Commented
 Hot
 Topics
Weapons: Turks Adopt Rejected U.S. Army Rifle
   Next Article → SURFACE FORCES : Showdown In The Bay Of Bengal

November 5, 2008: Turkey has selected a new assault rifle, choosing one that the U.S. Army rejected, but that the U.S. Army Special Forces (and the rest of SOCOM) have adopted. The new rifle is a slightly modified version of the HK 416. This weapon is basically the U.S. M4 assault rifle, with some of the components from the U.S. Army XM8 assault rifle (also rejected by the army). The new Turkish rifle will be called the Mehmetçik-1. It's manufactured with the cooperation of the German firm Heckler & Koch (HK).

Back in 2005, the U.S. Army's design for a new assault rifle, the XM8, was cancelled. But the manufacturer incorporated one of the key components of the XM8, into M4 rifles, and produced a hybrid, the HK 416. Heckler & Koch (H&K) designed the XM8, which was based on an earlier HK rifle, the G36. SOCOM is using the 416, but no one else is (except for a few police departments, and now Turkey).

The XM8 had one major advantage over the M16. The XM8 (like the G36 and 416) uses a short-stroke piston system. The M16s uses gas-tube system, which results in carbon being blown back into the chamber. That leads to carbon build up, which results in jams (rounds getting stuck in the chamber, and the weapon unable to fire.). The short-stroke system also does not expose parts of the rifle to extremely hot gases (which wears out components more quickly). As a result, rifles using the short-stroke system, rather than the gas-tube, are more reliable, easier to maintain and last longer.

HK developed the 416, for SOCOM, at the same time the XM8 was being evaluated by the army. SOCOM got the first 416s in 2004, a year before the army cancelled the XM8. The 416 looks like the M4, for the only thing that has changed is the gas system (that automatically extracts the cartridge after the bullet has been fired, and loads the next round.) SOCOM can buy pretty much whatever they want, the U.S. Army cannot. SOCOM listens to what its troops want, the army often doesn't.

The Turks tested 9,000 of the Mehmetçik-1's (built by local firm MKE) first, and the troops liked the weapon. Production is being increased, and the transition will begin next year. The Mehmetçik-1 is your basic 8 pound, 5.56mm weapon, with mounting rails for scopes, a hand grip forward of the magazine and using 30 round magazines.

Next Article → SURFACE FORCES : Showdown In The Bay Of Bengal
  

Show Only Poster Name and Title     Newest to Oldest
Pages: 1 2
cwDeici       11/6/2008 4:20:43 AM

The XM8 is a developmental U.S. military designation and project name for a lightweight assault rifle system that was under development by the United States Army from the late 1990s to early 2000s. The Army worked with the small arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch (H&K) to develop the system to its requirements in the aftermath of the OICW contract, for which H&K had been a subcontractor to ATK. Although there were high hopes that the XM8 would become the Army's new standard infantry rifle, the project was put on hold in mid 2005, and was formally cancelled on October 31, 2005.

General Dynamics was involved in latter stages and H&K had plans to produce the rifle at a plant in Georgia. H&K was British owned at the start of the project, but was later bought back by a group of German investors. Engineering work was done at facilities in the United States and Germany.

Overview
The US Army's purpose in contracting for this prototype weapon was to provide replacement options for the venerable M16 rifle after the XM29 program ran into problems. The Army's goal was a weapon that was cheaper, lighter, and more effective than the M16 and M4 Carbine series of weapons. The XM8 was not just one weapon, but a system which could be reconfigured with appropriate parts to be any one of several variants from a short-barreled personal defense weapon to a bipod-equipped support weapon. It also included an integrated optical sight and IR laser aiming module/illuminator.

The XM8 was based on the kinetic energy module of Alliant Techsystems's XM29 OICW project, of which the weapon mechanisms were the responsibility of H&K. Following the indefinite delay of the Objective Individual Combat Weapon program, the U.S. Army requested that the contractors design stand-alone weapons from the XM29's kinetic energy and high explosive modules.

The first 30 XM8 prototypes were delivered by November 2003 for preliminary testing. Later, at least 200 developmental prototypes were procured. Among the complaints during testing were too low a battery life for the weapon's powered sight system and some ergonomics issues. Two other key issues were reducing the weapon's weight and increasing the heat resistance of the hand guard, which would start to melt after firing too many rounds. The main testing was largely completed, and the Army pushed for funding for a large field test. However, in 2004 Congress denied $26 million funding for 7,000 rifles to do a wide scale test fielding of the XM8 in 2005. At the time the rifle still had developmental goals that were incomplete, primarily associated with the weapon's weight; the battery life had been extended, and a more heat-resistant plastic hand-guard added. The earliest product brochure lists the target weight for the carbine variant at 5.7 lb (2.6 kg) with the then current prototype at 6.2 lb (2.8 kg). The weight of the carbine prototype had since grown to 7.5 lb (3.4 kg) according to a brochure released by HK and General Dynamics in January 2005.

During the same period, the Army came under pressure from other arms makers to open up the XM8 to competition. The main argument was that the weapon that was being adopted was a substantially different system than for the original competition that ATK and H&K had actually won (see XM29). Other issues were that the Army has a legislated obligation to prefer U.S.-based manufacturers, and that a previous agreement with Colt Defense required the Army to involve Colt in certain small-arms programs. The XM8 program was put on hold by the Army in 2004. The exact reason why this happened is a matter of debate; some combination of the aforementioned technical issues, funding restrictions, and outside pressure being involved.

In 2005, the Army issued a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) for the OICW Increment One family of weapons. This RFP gave manufacturers six months to develop and deliver prototype weapons with requirements very similar to the XM8 capabilities, but with the addition of a squad automatic weapon (SAW) configuration. Currently, no XM8 prototypes have been shown that actually match the capabilities of the M249 (e.g. fast barrel replacement, high sustained rate of fire, belt feed). The OICW Increment One requirement for the SAW includes fast barrel replacement and high sustained rate of fire, but leaves the ammunition feed choice up to the manufacturer.

Funding for the XM320 grenade launcher, which is a single-shot under-barrel grenade launcher similar to the M203 that was originally intended for the XM8, was approved. The launcher is actually heavier than the M203, but does offer some advantages. The XM320 was designed for use with the existing inventory of M16s and M4s and is also compatible with the XM8. It can also be used as a stand-alone weapon.

As of July 19, 2005, the OICW Increment On

 
Quote    Reply

cwDeici       11/6/2008 4:25:06 AM
In the Fall of 2007 the XM8 was compared to other firearms in a 'dust test.' The competition was based on two previous tests that were conducted in Summer 2006 and Summer 2007 before the latest test in the Fall of 2007. In the Summer 2007 test, M16 rifles and M4 carbines recorded a total of 307 stoppages. In the Fall 2007 test, the XM8 recorded only 127 stoppages in 60,000 total rounds while the M4 carbine had 882. The FN SCAR had 226 stoppages and the HK416 had 233. The difference between the XM8, HK416, and FN SCAR was not statistically significant when correcting for the less reliable STANAG magazine. However, the discrepancy of 575 stoppages between the Summer and Fall 2007 tests of the M4 had Army officials looking into possible causes for the change such as different officials, seasons, and inadequate sample pool size but have stated that the conditions of the test were ostensibly the same. The Army countered the controversy surrounding the M4 by stating, in essence, that troops are generally satisfied with the M4.
 ---
 
I'd go with the XM-8 off the bat with some care, but the HK416 is tried and true so I'd trade it in for the M-16 without any such worries. 
 
Quote    Reply

mough       11/6/2008 1:58:25 PM
"SOCOM is using the 416, but no one else is (except for a few police departments, and now Turkey)."
 
That's wrong, Norway uses it as the standard issue rifle for their enitre military, it's also used by SF/SOF's in the UK/France/Holland/Italy/Indonesia/Malaysia/Poland so far.
 
Quote    Reply

doggtag       11/6/2008 3:15:27 PM
One of the biggest cracks (no pun intended) in the XM-8's eggshell was that people suggested its poorly-chosen plastic-and-composite construction melted/distorted under the heat of intense usage.
 
Thing here is, when the AR-15/M-16 first came into being (early model adopted into US military service), its buttstock and handguards were made of some pathetic plastc material themselves, and after numerous complaints of fragility, cracking, and a general unreliability, the material was replaced.
 
Why should we believe the XM-8's composite/plastic construction issues couldn't have been fixed, either?
Every prototype has its problems, even into the early production runs of a given system.
Notice the M16 itself went thru no less than 5 different service iterations (base M16, A1, A2, A3, A4), only to evolve into the M4 carbine,...which itself has been further poked and prodded beyond just the base M4 model.
 
So what then is the beef over a new design, other than the "we're in the middle of two wars, it'll cost too much to change over" arguments.
 
Notice we have no issues procuring new combat jets, new helicopters, new transport aircraft, new AFVs, new artillery, new bombs and missiles, new ships, new MREs, new clothing and battle rattle (gear), new commo gear and all sorts of handheld electronic goodies and gizmos.
But the actually infantry small arms?
"Adequate enough" is our answer, and any problems in the field then are obviously because of troop stupidity and incompetence ("clean it!" is always the excuse we hear).
 
It's all politics. Always will be.
 
Quote    Reply

OkinawaGuy       11/6/2008 4:32:43 PM
I was rather hoping Gates would overrule the Army on the M16/M4, but that doesn't appear to be likely.  I can't understand the intransgience of the Army, and the military in general, on the issue of the M16/M4.  There is no other sacred cow that has this much importance (nearly all enlisted at least train to use it) and has stayed in service this long while suitable replacements exist.  The Army added the Stryker during wartime, introduced multiple UAV variants, added a myriad MRAP variants, and continually changed the configuration of Uparmored HMMWVs.  Follow the model they used with Styrker -- equip an entire brigade with the new weapon and deploy en masse with all the necessary supporting items needed for the new gear.  I suppose they'll move away from the M16/M4 about the time they move away from the M9.
 
Quote    Reply

cwDeici       11/7/2008 3:46:59 AM

One of the biggest cracks (no pun intended) in the XM-8's eggshell was that people suggested its poorly-chosen plastic-and-composite construction melted/distorted under the heat of intense usage.

 

Thing here is, when the AR-15/M-16 first came into being (early model adopted into US military service), its buttstock and handguards were made of some pathetic plastc material themselves, and after numerous complaints of fragility, cracking, and a general unreliability, the material was replaced.

 

Why should we believe the XM-8's composite/plastic construction issues couldn't have been fixed, either?

Every prototype has its problems, even into the early production runs of a given system.

Notice the M16 itself went thru no less than 5 different service iterations (base M16, A1, A2, A3, A4), only to evolve into the M4 carbine,...which itself has been further poked and prodded beyond just the base M4 model.

 

So what then is the beef over a new design, other than the "we're in the middle of two wars, it'll cost too much to change over" arguments.

 

Notice we have no issues procuring new combat jets, new helicopters, new transport aircraft, new AFVs, new artillery, new bombs and missiles, new ships, new MREs, new clothing and battle rattle (gear), new commo gear and all sorts of handheld electronic goodies and gizmos.

But the actually infantry small arms?

"Adequate enough" is our answer, and any problems in the field then are obviously because of troop stupidity and incompetence ("clean it!" is always the excuse we hear).

 

It's all politics. Always will be.


The reader contributed article I lifted from guns and rifles seems to confirm this. A few paragraphs in it is clearly stated that the handguard was replaced with a more heat resistant one. The relevant piece of the article read the same several months ago when I came across it my first time.
 
Quote    Reply

cwDeici       11/7/2008 3:57:28 AM
Its especially sad what you mention, that the troops get all sorts of new equipment and treated with a bipolar attitude by the media (as in nothing is good enough for them until the bill comes in), but are still blamed if their guns jam. Sure, stoppages can be mostly eliminated, but a well-maintained M16 still has a significantly above the average rate of stoppages.
Not that I think life is sacred in the humanist sense, but its a shame every time a life is lost due to a lack of initiative or political/economical maneuvers. 

 
Quote    Reply

cwDeici       11/7/2008 4:02:19 AM
And our political opponents will continue to hammer on lives lost.
Even back in the Vietnam war the M16 was getting flack. Now thirty years later it has seen significant modifications and improvements, but significant changes can not be made without deviating from at least some of the base design. Seeing as how the HK416 is basically the M16 with an improved firing mechanism my astonishment just keeps on rising that it has not been replaced. It really must have been treated like a 'sacred cow' as you mention.

 
Quote    Reply

cwDeici       11/7/2008 4:07:53 AM
Not that I know the competitive issues of the Vietnam war. ...
Anyway, why was the AK more reliable back then? I hesitate to make any judgment, but the M16 was probably still the better gun. Or was it? There were a myriad factors of war, but it is one won by the side using the AK. What changes has the M16 gone through? For how long, if ever, was it on top of the line or following the main stream of progressive development?

I'm not asking for you to answer these questions, though it'd be nice - I think I'll look for them myself. But I have been convinced that the M16 these days is a reasonable gun if treated well, but very, very old.
 
I don't know about the M4, its more reliable and practical to my knowledge, but it suffers from some of the same issues.
 
(Well, that's enough posting for me. Sorry for taking up 4 posts. :))
 
Quote    Reply

cwDeici       11/7/2008 4:10:29 AM
'Gas system' was replaced for the HK416 not 'firing mechanism', my bad.
 
Quote    Reply
1 2