A short-lived program to find an interim replacement for the M4/M16 rifle for front line soldiers is officially dead.
The Army’s Interim Combat Service Rifle program’s funds have been reallocated to its longer-term goal to create the Next Generation Squad Weapon, according to an Army posting on the federal business opportunities website this week.
“The NGSW will be a long term solution to meet the identified capability gap instead of the ICSR, which was an interim solution,” according to the website post.
The program, launched in August, originally sought up to 50,000 commercially available, 7.62 mm rifles to bridge the reported small arms overmatch and new 5.56 mm-resistant body armor being fielded by adversaries.
Army Times and other media outlets reported that the program had been canceled in September, but Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings, head of Program Executive Office Soldier, told Military.com at the time that “the decision has not been made” to cancel the program.
The Interim Combat Service Rifle had been in development since at least this spring and was officially announced in August.
The rifles were not intended to replace the entire rifle inventory but instead would have been fielded to front line, rapid response soldiers most likely to face combat in the near term.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and developers at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence have called the Next Generation Squad Weapon an “evolution” in small arms that will apply new fire control systems, design changes, and likely a new caliber of ammunition in an intermediate range between 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm.
Army researchers are digesting the results of a two-year study that took a comprehensive look at how to build the rifle, ammunition and fire control system together, in order to build the next generation of small arms.
Cummings told Army Times in October that the new weapon could be fielded as early as 2022, with additional enhancements, specifically in fire control, added by 2025.