|I am aware of Jim Shatz's work and his reputation. While the
attached pdf file seems to be long and all-inclusive, it is actually just barely
summarizing and scratching the surface of what it's slide-show presentation
format depicts. I suspect this was designed exactly as a slide presentation
meant to accompany a looooooooong lecture by the presenter. |
To briefly summarize what all this means to you,...today,...it is no secret that the lobbying done on behalf of the military industrial complex has produced extremely disjointed and counter-intuitive procurements at all levels of defense materiel and weaponry. And it is also no secret that quite often what is bought for the military is not what the military needed, but what the suppliers needed to sell. In the small arms realm, Fabrique Nationale (FN) of Belgium manufactures 80% of all U.S. small arms. Though owned by a Belgian consotium, the plant which makes these weapons for the U.S. is located in South Carolina. FN got its first contract to make the next batch of M-16A2 rifles back in 1987 by capitalizing upon its growing relationship with Strom Thurmond. The Republicans, who were still the minority then, were looking for a way to hurt some of their Democrat opponents (as always) by showing them as being against a strong defense, and not any good at creating or keeping jobs. Colt, based in Democrat-controlled Connecticut, knew where their bread was buttered, and always contributed strongly to eastern liberals, but not so well to Republicans. Thurmaond, at FN's urging, got the military M-16 contract diverted to FN, with the caveat that FN would build them in his state of S.Carolina. FN built them less expensively (saving the military money, which adds to a strong defense), and Connecticut lost jobs at Colt, while S.C. gained jobs.
Other contracts soon followed. The M-2 .50 caliber heavy machine-gun, formerly built by Saco-Lowell in Maine; the existing stocks were well-worn and in need of more than mere refurbishment. The FN bid came in lower, and they won. (Previously, FN was not even allowed into the bidding because of long-standing practices of not allowing more than 25% of any provision of any materiel class or indiviual system to be reliant upon a non-U.S. based producer.) The military had been looking to replace the flawed M-60 medium machine-gun (think Rambo) for decades, but had always been told to either make do or received Product-Improved-Production (PIP) upgraded versions that, although better, never really conquered the inherent flaws. An entirely new/better design was required, and with Strom Thurmond's help, FN provided it when the military was ALLOWED to finally adopt the weapon they had envied all the rest of their NATO allies for,...the FN/MAG-58 (fielded since 1958,...before the M-60), known today by its U.S. military designation, the M-240G.
Strom Thurmond was key in getting the procurement rules changed so that foriegn-owned companies could produce unlimited percentages of U.S. military items, as long as actual fabrication and production was done inside the U.S. by U.S. employees. Thusly, today there are almost no exclusively American military small arms in the hands of U.S. soldiers.
MP-5 SMG - designed and built by HK (currently owned by British)
CAR-9 SMG (9mm M-16 shorty) - designed by Colt, built by FN in the U.S.
M-9 pistol - designed and built by Beretta in the U.S.
M-4 carbine - designed by Colt, built by FN in the U.S.
M-16A4 rifle - designed by Colt, built by FN in the U.S.
M249 SAW .223 belt-fed - designed and built by FN in the U.S.
M240G GPMG - designed and built by FN in the U.S.
M2 BMG - designed by Browning, built by FN in the U.S.
SCAR light (new SF .223 rifle taking on role of the M-4 carbine) - designed and built by FN
SCAR heavy (new .308 version of above, replacing M-14) - designed and built by FN
M-110 sniper rifle (.308 AR-10 replacing accurized M-14s) - designed and built by KAC (Knight's Armament Corp.) of Florida
It is generally agreed that the weapons which are working well and DO NOT need to be replaced with something else or significantly upgraded are:
MP-5 - (limited in utility, but reliable)
CAR-9 - (almost equal to the MP-5, cheaper to produce, 50% parts commonality with M-4)
M-240G - (the most reliable and tough GPMG in NATO, avg. of 1 stoppage in 1250 rnds.)
M-2 BMG - (newer designs exist, but are unproven and more expensive)
M-110 - (why did it take so long to adopt this wonderful rifle?)
The following designs have the following flaws or needed upgrades:
M-16/M-4 carbine series - One of the few systems that the PIP upgrades have actually worked significantly in improving, it unfortunately still suffers from its main flaw;...the direct-impingement gas system. This too has been conquered quite effectively by use of a conversion to a piston-driven gas system. Many versions of this conversion exist commercially, mith many more currently under development by the private market. The version reccognized as most successful and well-made,...the HK416 series,...has already been field tested in combat by U.S. Special Forces. This is the single most effective upgrade the M-16 series could/will ever undergo, and it should happen immediately. This potential upgrade is one of the few part-way measures that actually makes sense in many different regards than the alternative of scrapping the whole weapon system and going with a new one. I myself am going to build my own AR-15 into a gas-piston version, because of my previous experiences with the limited round-count reliability of the original direct-gas design and its sensativity to ammo types and supply. It is not uncommon for even the best maintained of M-16/M-4 rifles to begin "gumming up" and running sluggishly after only 200 to 300 rounds. This is begause of the gas and propellant residues that the direct-gas-impingement system allows into the operating mechanism. Piston-driven gas systems prevent this, and such conversions like the HK416 or others made by POF, CMMG, Bushmaster and others have gone over 2000 rounds without cleaning and experiencing no stoppages. Something impossible with the current design.
M-9 pistol: While not a "bad" design, there are better ones,...principally, the Glock. It's main flaw is bad ergonomics, contributing to less than optimal placement of accurate rounds on target. It also suffers from its weak caliber. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which has a little more free hand in procurement for their own branch, has been trying to get the Pentagon to allow them to move forward with adopting a new "Offensive Pistol" that would be likely chambered in .45acp or perhaps .40S&W. Operators at the mission level have been pleading for it, and quite particularly for the Glock, or a similar design.
M-249 Minimi: This 5.56 belt-fed squad automatic weapon (SAW) has many good attributes, including a rather acceptable reliability. However, it has a severe flaw that affects its ability to actually hit the target, and thereby affectingting its lethality. The particular way the barrel mount in the receiver is secured produces a flexing vibration under operation that causes the barrel to disperse shots in a verticaly eliptical pattern downrange (known in gunnery as "the beaten zone"). Because a belt-fed weapon is meant as an "area weapon", a horizontally eliptical beaten zone would be a great detraction. But a vertical dispersion is ineffecient reduces effectiveness. The M-249 was the first of the 5.56 belt-fed designs and was revolutionary when introduced. But many other designs have refined the concept, including German, Israeli and South African examples that are much better candidates to fill this role.
I could go on and on,...but those are the highlights of the current deficiencies.