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Subject: Fixing The M4 Has Been Difficult
SYSOP    1/14/2013 5:39:49 AM
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Belisarius1234    I've seen this H&K    1/14/2013 11:15:20 AM
propaganda before.
Not impressed. 
"If the issue were put to a vote, the troops would vote for a rifle using a short-stroke system (like the XM8, SCAR or H&K 416). But the military is not a democracy, so the troops spend a lot of time cleaning their weapons, and hoping for the best. The debate involves two intertwined attitudes among senior army commanders. First, they don't want the hassle, and possible embarrassment, of switching to a new rifle that might have even more difficult problems.Second, they are anticipating a breakthrough in weapons technology that will make possible a much improved infantry weapon. This is likely to happen later, rather than sooner, but the generals kept obsessing over it. They are encouraged by recent success in development of caseless and short case ammo for a new machine-gun design. "
ATK is on to something. H&K can stuff it.
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bikebrains       1/14/2013 2:00:01 PM
"Thus the XM8 finished first, SCAR second, 416 third and M4 last.... The army noted that the M4 fired over 98 percent of its rounds without problems. That missed the point that the other rifles had far fewer jams. In combat, each jam is a life threatening situation for the soldier in question."    This article should be posted in every Army recruiter's office and be required reading before enlistment.   
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WarNerd       1/16/2013 2:20:30 AM
If they are going to replace the M-4, they need to change the cartridge first, then hold the competition for a gun to fire it.  They are not going to get the money to change the guns, then the cartridge and possibly a new gun.
Keep the cartridge competition simple. Only brass cartridges are permitted, but all dimension are up to the proposer. The proponents supply the cartridge, the military supplies laboratory test rigs to fire them and measure the performance parameters. Then results are weighted by a criteria set in the RFP, and the winner selected. The military then produced an equivalent plastic cased telescoped round, and manufactures several 100,000 rounds of each for the next phase.
Then hold the competition for the new gun requesting gun designs for both brass and case telescoped ammunition. There will have to be a longer submission period in order to allow designs for the CT rounds to be debugged. The military supplies all the ammunition for gun development and testing, so there is not financial advantage to sticking to 5.56 NATO. (In previous competitions for a new gun the military would supply free 5.56 NATO rounds, but proposals in alterative calibers had to supply something like 500,000 rounds of ammunition with the guns for the testing process. Needless to say, everyone used 5.56 NATO.) Testing will again be by predetermined rules and weighting. Get congress to sign off on them, to make their meddling after the fact more difficult/obvious. Send the 2 best in each of the brass and CT designs on to the next stage for user testing and input in all training environments.
I expect the brass cartridge designs will be more reliable, it is a mature technology. But the lighter weight of the CT designs may win a lot of adherents. All-in-all, if a CT design meets the other requirements and has reliability better than the M-4 I would tend toward that. Otherwise stick with brass or steel cartridges.
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kirby1       1/17/2013 10:00:34 AM
IMHO, the real problem is that the military is trying to do way too much with one single weapon firing one single caliber. In  WW2 Infantry units had 45 ACP pistols and subguns, M1 Garands, 30cal carbines, Browning automatic rifles and  in some cases browning light machine guns. Somehow we've paired it all the way down to the M-4, the 259 SAW in the same caliber, the occasional M-16 in 5.56 as well, the M9 pistol, and the occasional 7.62 nato M-240 or Designated marksmen rifle.
The military keeps fighting to implement a "One weapon One caliber" solution.  What we've wound up with is a weapon that is good enough for all tasks, but does not excel in any one particular application.
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Belisarius1234    One bullet rule.   1/17/2013 10:18:50 AM
The ideal weapon for an infantryman from a supply point of view is a single type weapon that can use a single type bullet to service a wide variety of targets in a wide variety of conditions.
Not gonna happen. Too many variables. But you can still service targets with a common ammunition.  
The rifle caliber bullet in the main IS that common ammunition solution.
The machine guns, automatic rifles, and the rifles [you] cited below were meant to use such a bullet. Not that it was the historical fact as different propellant loads had to be manufactured for the Brownings and the Garands for the common bullets in the cartridges to cycle operate the different self-loader systems used, but the point was that they TRIED for a common caliber, and if they engineered it right it should have worked with a common cartridge propellant load.
In the end, all they did was make their supply nightmare worse. 


The military keeps fighting to implement a "One weapon One caliber" solution.  What we've wound up with is a weapon that is good enough for all tasks, but does not excel in any one particular application.



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Bill Befort       1/17/2013 2:44:20 PM
Sometimes this really seems hopeless.  I remember how the M14 was supposed to replace the Garand, the BAR, the carbine and the grease-gun by a single weapon and cartridge.  That obvious fantasy made it all the way to full-scale production before reality set in.  Our guys carried the ponderous M1919 through Korea and years afterward, till we absorbed the Germans' WWII LMG lessons and designed the M60, itself so inferior to its rivals that it eventually had to be replaced by an older weapon, the MAG.  Stumbling into a submachine-gun type of war in Vietnam, we went overboard on the stopgap M16 and its pipsqueak cartridge, and half a century later we're still fixing and patching those decisions.  If we must cut down the Pentagon, can't we start by outsourcing small-arms development? 
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kirby1       1/17/2013 4:30:07 PM
I would also like to point out the changes in overall military doctrine. The M-16 and 5.56 cartridge was designed as an ultralight, short-ranged, High ROF rifle for our miniature horde of barely-trained of draftees to carry into battle against a much larger horde of soviet troops equiped with the AK, which was roughly based on the same idea.
The opfors have mostly remained the same, soviet conscripts getting replaced with communist guerrillas, getting replaced with corrupted third world armies, in turn replaced by pirates and local extremists. Little hordes of idiots putting out lots and lots of lead, hoping for a couple of golden BBs. Add some RPGS and you'll definitely have some sort of effect on the battlefield whether you win or lose.

On the other hand though; we've changed. Our troops are alot smarter, alot better trained, and alot fewer in number. Perhaps we should adapt  our weapons to fit our new doctrines. The problem isn't the pursuit of new technology. THe problem is a lack of pursuit for new ideas.
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PPR       1/18/2013 1:48:19 PM
Good point about the change in doctrine.  But even for the "spray & pray" doctrine of its time it was a flawed design.  The gas-tube feed recycles heat and spent powder back into chamber, making it just a matter of time before it overheats or jams.  It the above test, the M-4 jammed on average after 25 round (less than one magazine) and malfunctioned badly enough to require the weapon to be disassembled before the average soldier would expend half their ammo. The Army solution (do a better job of cleaning & maintaining the weapon) was more marketing than solution.  You can't simply ask the enemy for a time-out while you clean your weapon.  And if the Army is satisfied with the weapon, it could do much better.
As for waiting for some technical innovation such as caseless ammo,  they've been waiting on that for more than 30 years.  If they can develop it, we should buy it, but until then we need to go with what works now.
I guess the best question to ask is: what should be the doctrine for present weapons technology?
Think of the innovations that have come since the original M-16: plastic frames, night vision optics, laser ranging, modular designs, collapsable stocks, thermal imaging, computer-aided aiming, and improvements to ammo.
I personally favor some form of modular design, which can be adapted to battlefield conditions.  For example, Iraq and Afghanistan presented two very different needs: 
 --In Iraq much of the fighting was in close quarters in heavily populated areas, suggesting a smaller round capable for semi-automatic or automatic.
The SCAR looks like a good fit for now.
--In Afghanistan there are high mountains, open areas and a thin population density, suggesting a heavier, long-range round with semi-automatic fire and technology assistance for range.
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JFKY    All of this would    2/4/2013 3:29:50 PM
that the M-4 is "broken" and is need of being fixed.  Assumes facts not in evidence.
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SMSgt Mac    Dust Test Report   9/4/2013 10:15:12 PM
The article is a mishmash of 'feelings', unattributed assertionss, and a non-technical person's perversion of the test report. Typical Dunnigan.
Search "SMSgt Mac Extreme Dust Test: M4 and Others" and follow to Elements of Power for a copy of the report brief and an analysis of available data.
Bottom Line:
1. Clean your freakin' weapon already!
2. M4 failures occurred at intervals greater than two basic loads apart... covered in more dust than Afghanistan could dump on it in a month of ditch laying.
Lots of reasons to use different weapons for different situations. None of that affects what should be the 'standard issue' for Joe Average G.I.  
BTW: The M4 also had the fewest number of catastrophic failures.
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