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Army looks to new technology for possible follow-on to M-4

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 13, 2008) -- Army and industry leaders gathered Thursday to exchange information about the latest advances in small-arms technology.

The Army released a Request for Information Aug. 22 asking the weapons industry to see the latest, state-of-the-art, small-arms technology. Industry representatives brought examples of that technology to an invitation-only industry day here to show Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and representatives of the Army's Program Executive Office-Soldier.

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The industry day was meant to allow military decision makers, including those from the Air Force and the Marine Corps, to get a look at what technology is available from weapons manufacturers in the way of small-arms -- in particular, for something that could be a follow-on to the M-4 carbine.

The Army is not ready today to buy new individual weapons for Soldiers beyond the M-4, said Col. Douglas A. Tamilio, project manager for Soldier Weapons.

In fact, Secretary Geren said the Army recently completed a purchase of 473,000 M-4 carbines. Geren said he is impressed with the M-4, and that the Army will continue to rely on industry to provide Soldiers with the best capabilities available.

"We are committed to the right capability and weapons for our Soldiers," the secretary said, while addressing industry leaders. He also said the Army would likely continue to purchase the M-4.

But a changing threat environment means that in order to continue to provide Soldiers with the best weaponry, the Army must continue to look at the latest options for weapons, Tamilio said.

"We want to make sure we have the best capability for our Soldiers," he said. "So we've got to get a good feel for what is out there."

Tamilio said proliferation of better weapons and better body armor amongst America's enemies means the Army must also look for better weapons. To that end, the secretary of the Army has directed the Army's Training and Doctrine Command to create a requirements document for a new individual weapon for Soldiers.

That requirements document is expected to clear the Joint Requirements Oversight Committee next summer and a Request For Proposal might be released in September 2009, Tamilio said. With the release of an RFP, arms manufactures will compete to sell the Army a follow-on to the M-4.

During the industry day, more than a dozen weapons manufacturers -- including Smith and Wesson, Sig Sauer, and Colt Defense -- displayed their latest weapons technology for Army officials. Later, representatives from each vendor met with Army officials to discuss their wares.

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