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Subject: What does the US Army need in a next generation machine gun?
Herald12345    2/20/2008 5:04:22 PM
Or for that matter, what do the experts hewre consider would be achievable improvements in the general purpose machine gun? Since I am not an expert on this subject I'm here to learn. I will ask questions though. Its part of the educating Herald series. Herald
 
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Yimmy       2/20/2008 5:27:46 PM
I don't know about the US army, but could you be more specific Herald, concerning the type of machine gun?
 
LMG/GPMG/HMG/GMG... they all are needed, or at least desirable.
 
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Herald12345    This is why I am not an expert.   2/20/2008 5:39:26 PM
I'm thinking of a man portable weapon two man crew served weapon that can give you automatic weapon fire from a  base position to cover your own movement and to deny enemy infantry the ability to move across ground out to a beaten zone at least 750 meters in a fan shaped cone not less than 120 degrees and preferably 160 degrees arc or more in front of said gun.

This to me means what you might call an M-240 class weapon.

Herald.



 
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flamingknives       2/20/2008 5:58:52 PM
I would suppose that a time frame would help define a solution.

On my own limited knowledge, I would suggest:
Near term would be improved optics, possibly electro-optics like thermal imagers
After that, reduced ammunition/logisitics burden and/or increased effectiveness, using caseless or CT ammunition for a KE solution or some kind of light weight CE solution, possibly 3P or similar to increase Phit per round.

The thing is, for a GPMG, you really want it to be effective in the light role as well (off a bipod), so mass reduction and a matching recoil attenuation system would be sensible. Possibly a variable rate of fire depending on the role you intend it for. For aimed fire, you want a high rate of fire so as to increase the chance of a hit before the target takes cover, for area you would want lower, so as to maintain suppresion for longer with the same ammunition load.

In an ideal world, a method for feeding like a belt without the attendent fouling problems would be nice.

Fire arc is a function of weapon mount.


 
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YelliChink       2/20/2008 6:22:16 PM
There will be almost no improvement can be done to current M240 unless there is an innovation in ammo technology.
 
Say, the bullets that can find and identify targets by itself like the one you saw in Fifth Element. That will be great if it can be done. Other options including liquid propellent, so that the loader only need to carry bullets and propellent tank. But it doesn't sound like a good idea, because it will be not only messy, but also suicidal to carry liquid propellent containers into the fields. Caseless and telescopic ammo don't provide much advantage to current generation ammunition. Caseless ammo do not have brass to carry away heat, though if liquid cooling system can be fit, like M1917 machinegun, it could be good idea. This is not so good to people who have to carry big water tank, though. If Ghostbuster's proton generator can be manufactured, then probably we can issue portable rail-machineguns. Yeah, If it can be done, people might try to make a flux capacitor as well.
 
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kensohaski       2/20/2008 7:19:25 PM
Perhaps to the aiming systems?  Just a guess....
 
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Herald12345    First question.   2/21/2008 12:12:43 PM

There will be almost no improvement can be done to current M240 unless there is an innovation in ammo technology.

 

Say, the bullets that can find and identify targets by itself like the one you saw in Fifth Element. That will be great if it can be done. Other options including liquid propellent, so that the loader only need to carry bullets and propellent tank. But it doesn't sound like a good idea, because it will be not only messy, but also suicidal to carry liquid propellent containers into the fields. Caseless and telescopic ammo don't provide much advantage to current generation ammunition. Caseless ammo do not have brass to carry away heat, though if liquid cooling system can be fit, like M1917 machinegun, it could be good idea. This is not so good to people who have to carry big water tank, though. If Ghostbuster's proton generator can be manufactured, then probably we can issue portable rail-machineguns. Yeah, If it can be done, people might try to make a flux capacitor as well.


This to my mind, along with the  feed extract problems has been the big  engineering problem to making a reliable machine  gun. What do you doi about the heat burden that deforms the  fit of the machione gun and interferes with its cyclic operation as well as prematurely cooks its ammunition?

If caseless and telescopic ammunition does not  transmit heat with as much efficiency as brass, what are the proposed solutions?  I know that some proposals involve a revolver  mechanism design to rotate combustion chambers in series to allow cooling between shots, but is this practical in a light machine gun? How much fouling will such a mechanism introduce into what is already a dirt sensitive mechanism?

Herald
 
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FJV    What are we aiming for?   2/21/2008 3:43:22 PM
Not that I am much of a gun expert, but I would start at what are the desired specs and work from there.

We could take the specs of the M240 as a basis (the numbers to beat so to speak). Just to name a few:
- Caliber: 7,62x51mm NATO
- Weight of cartridge: 393 gr (25.47 g)
- Weight of link of chain of bullet belt: ?????
- Muzzle velocity 2750 ft/s 838m/s
- Weight: ±11kg, ±21 kg on tripod
- Length: 1260 mm
- Rate of fire: 650-750 and  950-1000 rounds (selectable)
- Rapid fire: 200 rounds per minute
- Sustained fire: 100 rounds per minute
- Mean Rounds Between Stoppages ?????
- Mean Rounds Between Failures 26,000
- Unit replacement cost $6600
- Maximum effective Range: 1.1 miles (1.8 kilometers) on tripod mount
- Maximum range: 2.31 miles (3.725 kilometers)
Sources:     "http://world.guns.ru/machine/mg06-e.htm"
                 "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M240_machine_gun"
                 "http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m240g.htm"
                 "http://www.atk.com/ammo_PDFs/smallcaliber.pdf"
                 "http://www.olive-drab.com/od_firearms_ammo_762mm.php"
There would also be additional features, like adding rails on the gun to add all kinds of gadgets and stuff. Also some specs like caliber determine design requirements, but design requirements would also determine caliber.

From here you could work to a list of improved specs you want to have in the new design.
Then you'ld order them into must absolutely be met specs and would be nice, but can live without if need be specs.
  
 
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Lawman       2/21/2008 4:51:15 PM
One possibility would be to move to a lighter-weight general purpose machinegun, e.g. the Mk48, especially if there were a switch to a lighter calibre (allowing a uniform standard calibre, perhaps something like the 6.5mm MPC). There could then be a lighter alternative to the .50cal, e.g. the .408 CheyTac, to work alongside either the Mk47, Mk19 or XM-307. The main aim would be to lighten the overall load - if a case telescopic rounds can be made available, a 7.62mm equivalent round could probably be designed to be more like the 6.5mm for weight. If we can therefore switch to a uniform series of calibres, i.e. case-telescopic 6.5mm round for the dismounted infantry, and a heavy-ish machinegun in .338 or .408 for vehicle use. In both cases it allows a much lighter ammunition load, hopefully not hurting actual combat capability either, especially if combined with the various 25mm weapons.
 
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flamingknives       2/21/2008 4:59:46 PM
This is why I ask about the time frame. Short-term, you are going to be looking at product improvements. Longer-term, you are starting to get into blue-sky development where defining the specs by a current system is unnecessarily restrictive.
 
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YelliChink       2/21/2008 6:10:47 PM


This to my mind, along with the  feed extract problems has been the big  engineering problem to making a reliable machine  gun. What do you doi about the heat burden that deforms the  fit of the machione gun and interferes with its cyclic operation as well as prematurely cooks its ammunition?

If caseless and telescopic ammunition does not  transmit heat with as much efficiency as brass, what are the proposed solutions?  I know that some proposals involve a revolver  mechanism design to rotate combustion chambers in series to allow cooling between shots, but is this practical in a light machine gun? How much fouling will such a mechanism introduce into what is already a dirt sensitive mechanism?

Herald
I didn't think of the revolver design. Thanks for reminding me about that. M39 20mm cannon is revolver design. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with it, though feeding is abit complex. I've heard that Russians have some gas-driven revolver cannon. This idea may be used on a 7.62 marchine gun. As far as I know, an experimenting LMG is designed with revolving chamber and telescopic/caseless ammo. Fouling may or may not be an issue depending on revolver design. If you design the telescopic case right, the case can seal and be supported by the chamber. However, I really don't see how it would beat M240. M240 is heavy, elegant and remarkably simple piece of machine. You can't really top that design without some voodoo magic. OK, maybe PKM in 7.62NATO can, but that's another story.
 
Current generation use open bolt and barrel-change capability to battle heat problem. It is thermal dynamics, and you can't win. Water cooling is more efficient, and that's why those old German MG08 and British Vickers can shoot all day if John the private second class keeps the keg full of water.
 
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