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Promising cartridge of service in the U.S. Army – the future of small arms

WASHINGTON, (BM) – In the landmark American tender NGSW (Next Generation Squad Weapon) for a new assault rifle and a new light machine gun, the focus is not on the design of the combat system, but on the promising cartridge. No one is waiting for new breakthrough technical solutions in the design of infantryman weapons.

The changes only concern ergonomics and design, along with the modularity of assault rifles and assault rifles. The design resource, according to many experts, has been developed, which cannot be said about ammunition.

The German company SIG Sauer, together with the American General Dynamics and AAI Corporation Textron Systems, participates in the Pentagon competition. SIG Sauer has presented another modification of the AR platform. But the innovative chuck is the connection of a steel base with a brass sleeve.

General Dynamics offered the RM277 bullpup with a new 6.8mm cartridge (composite sleeve and metal base). The AAI Corporation Textron Systems rifle is loaded with a 6.8 mm telescopic cartridge in a polymer sleeve. The ammunition nomenclature of the tender clearly indicates that the fundamentally new cartridges will obviously cause an explosive development of small arms.

Currently, bullets with a steel core, a lead jacket and a tompak (90% copper and 10% zinc) sheath are mainly used as the striking elements of classical unitary cartridges. In order to increase armor penetration, the American army began using all-metal bullets of the M80A1 EPR and M855A1 cartridges without a lead jacket, consisting of a tombak shell and a core with a steel head and a bismuth tail.

Caseless ammunition (a bullet inside a propellant charge) was considered too dangerous. Back in the 1980s, the German company Heckler und Koch created the HK G11 automatic rifle for caseless DM11 cartridges developed by Dynamit Nobel. However, the trial operation of a thousand HK G11 in the FRG border service showed their danger due to the frequent spontaneous combustion of caseless cartridges in the chamber, despite its separation from the rifle barrel.

Cartridges with plastic (polymer) sleeves were 40% lighter than metal ones, but melted at temperatures above 250 C. Now a new, more resistant structural polymer, polyimide, has been developed, the maximum operating temperature of which is 400 C – the permissible limit for heating small arms barrels (then they come warping).

The American firm True Velocity has developed for the NGSW tender a 6.8-mm cartridge in a polymer sleeve for a rifle from Textron Systems. About ten years ago, this company developed a light machine gun and an automatic carbine for a combined ammunition supply with cartridges with a brass sleeve, a plastic sleeve and caseless.

Cartridges with aluminum sleeves pose a danger of self-ignition at temperatures above 430 C. The heat of combustion of aluminum is very high and amounts to 30.8 MJ / kg. Although replacing copper with aluminum allows you to remove the restriction on the resource base, reduce the cost of the cartridge case, and reduce the weight of the ammunition by 25%.

Aluminum casings have become widespread only as part of pistol cartridges of calibers 9×18 PM and 9×19 Para, the intensity of fire and the heating of the pistol is much lower for machine guns and assault rifles.

A cermet composite of the cermet class (aluminum alloyed with magnesium, nickel and other chemical elements) forms the basis of cermet sleeves. Antifriction coating of the liner is provided by applying a polyimide-graphite coating to its outer surface. Melting temperature – 1100 C. The weight of the brass cartridge case 5.56×45 mm is 5 grams, the weight of the cermet case is 2 grams.

Bullets with an all-metal core and polymer sheath (polyimide and colloidal graphite) and a telescopic cartridge with a bullet placed inside a pressed propellant charge are promising. This makes it possible to reduce the length of the cartridge by one and a half times, which will increase the number of cartridges in the infantryman’s ammunition by a quarter, and also reduce the material consumption and production costs.

The development of cartridges with a non-mechanical capsule or with electric initiation, as well as systems with separate loading, as in artillery systems, are also realistic. In addition, ammunition for grenade launchers integrated into the rifle complex is also developing in an intellectual direction. Here the scope for new solutions for ammunition detonation systems is huge.

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