by David Crane
US Army ARDEC, AMSTA-AR-PC, and Picatinny Arsenal (NJ) have just issued a Sources Sought Notice for a "Non-Developmental multi- configurable 5.56mm modular weapon system". It’s possible that this notice is specifically designed to save/salvage the HK XM8 development program, in which the US Army TACOM-ARDEC and Picatinny Arsenal already have a significant time and money investment.
It’s DefRev’s understanding that the XM8 recently failed a US Army test. It apparently suffered some kind of unspecified mechanical problem. It’s also been reported that the XM8 overheats when fired (presumably extensively) on full-auto (handguards melting and such). We’re looking into this. We’ve been told that the US Marine Corps (USMC) doesn’t want it (unconfirmed). So, it would seem that the XM8 development program is in serious trouble, at the moment. Several of our sources have even gone so far as to say the XM8 is dead. This is, as yet, unverified. We’ll see. Even if this is true, for the moment, US Army programs have a way of coming back from the dead, on occasion.
The following is an excerpt from the Sources Sought Notice:…
"The US Army is currently seeking sources for a Non-Developmental multi- configurable 5.56mm modular weapon system. The system shall consist of four variants to include: Special Compact (SC), Carbine, Designated Marksman (DM), and Light Machine Gun (LMG) (or Auto Rifle). All variants need to function in both semi-automatic and automatic firing modes, with the LMG primary firing mode being full auto. The SC variant will provide Soldiers an enhanced close quarter battle capability providing effective lethality through 150m. The Carbine is slated to be the standard issue individual combat weapon with an effective range through 500m. The DM variant will provide accurate fire at longer ranges as well as offering an automatic rifle capability. The LMG variant will offer the role of suppressive fire through 600m. The mandatory weapon system family requirements follow. Any vendor not meeting the following mandatory requirements may not be considered a potential source. Multi-Configurable variants 80% parts commonality between SC, Carbine, and DM; 50% parts commonality between LMG and the other three variants; reconfigurable at the unit level."