As the US Marine Corps. USA As the infantry squad's lethality continues to escalate, the Program Manager of the Marine Corps Systems Command for Infantry Weapons has begun the largest modernization effort in decades.
According to a recent service press release, the Infantry Weapons Program Manager (PM IW) strives to equip and maintain the Marine Corps with fully integrated infantry weapons, optics, and non-lethal systems for the Ground Combat Element.
Portfolio modernization efforts adhere to Marine Corps Commander Gen. David Berger's vision of redesigning the force to meet the challenges of a new era of great power competition. Through PM IW, the Corps plans to deploy numerous new weapons and optical systems in the next decade.
"This is the largest modernization of the infantry squad in the past 25 years," said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, MCSC program manager for infantry weapons.
As noted by the Marine Corps Systems Command, PM IW has begun acquiring the Modular Pistol System, which will replace all Marine Corps pistols. This front-firing pistol includes a clip-on plastic piece, allowing Marines to resize the grip to accommodate different hand sizes. The weapon is compatible with the pistol aiming module used by some units.
MCSC will begin rolling out the system this fiscal year.
"The MHS improves the precision and reliability of legacy platforms, while bringing with it new and more effective ammunition," said Maj. Mike Brisker, PM IW weapons product manager.
MCSC is expanding the use of the M27 automatic infantry rifle. Originally dispatched to infantry units as a replacement for the M249 squad's automatic weapon in 2011, the rifle received an overwhelmingly positive response from the Marines. This response led to the Marine Corps decision to place the M27 in all rifle platoons as its primary individual weapon.
"We expect the placement of (the M27) to conclude by the end of this fiscal year," said Brisker.
PM IW is also improving its optical systems. Protected in the spring of 2020, the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles is a helmet-mounted system that offers better depth perception and the ability to detect and recognize targets in low light conditions, in adverse weather conditions and in the presence of dark. The SBNVG provides additional capabilities that the legacy system, the AN / PVS-14, lacked.
Since the award of a contract in February 2020, PM IW plans to begin rolling out the Common Squad Optics in fiscal year 2021. The SCO includes an expanded day optics, which improves situational awareness, decreases engagement times, and increases hit probability.
"The Common Optics Squadron allows Marines to see further and identify the enemy more quickly," said Hough.
MCSC is collaborating with other services to place certain systems. For example, the Marine Corps will partner with the Army to acquire the Next Generation Squadron Weapon system, intended to replace the M27 and become the primary individual weapon for infantry units.
The NGSW will provide a significant boost to the lethality of every soldier and marine. The weapon includes a fire / optical control system that will incorporate an altered reticle to improve the accuracy of the shooter.
The Marine Corps could receive the first deliveries from the NGSW as early as fiscal year 2025, Brisker said.
Additionally, PM IW and Fleet Marines are participating in the Army's Integrated Visual Augmentation System and Enhanced Night Vision-Binocular Programs to help inform future program decisions and requirements.
PM IW's modernization efforts reflect MCSC's mission to increase fatality among Marines. The command continually strives to equip Marines with the capabilities necessary to successfully complete missions. To meet this goal, PM IW will continue to solicit comments from Marines and the industry.
"In line with the Commander's Planning Guide, we seek to lighten the load and increase the overall lethality of the Close Combat Forces, specifically the Marine Corps," said CW4 David Tomlinson, an infantry weapons officer with PM IW.
Tomlinson believes that improving infantry weapon systems will ultimately improve performance on the battlefield and increase survival at a time when enemies are getting stronger.
"These efforts show that we are focused on being aware of the developments that are coming rapidly," said Tomlinson. "It also shows our desire to remain persistent, look to the future, and make sure our Marines receive the best (systems) we can buy."