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Transcript

Army Officials Brief the Media on the Next Generation Squad Weapon

April 20, 2022
Brigadier General Larry Burris, Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team Director; Brigadier General William Boruff, Joint Program Executive Officer, Armaments and Ammunition; Colonel Scott Madore, PM Soldier Lethality

COLONEL SCOTT MADORE: Hey, good morning. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us this morning. I'm Colonel Scott Madore, the project manager for Soldier Lethality.

As most of you may already know, yesterday evening the Army awarded the next generation of squad weapon production contract to Sig Sauer for the production of the next generation of squad weapon rifles, automatic rifles and ammunition. This down-select and production contract award is the culmination of over two years of intensive Soldier and technical testing. 

The contract is a 10-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity production contract, with the first delivery order for $20.4 million.

With that, I'll turn it over to General Burris for his opening comments.

BRIGADIER GENERAL LARRY BURRIS: Well, good morning. I'd like to welcome all of you and thank you for your time today. I greatly appreciate what you do to ensure your audiences know what we're doing at the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team and our Partner Program Executive Office's PEO Soldier and JPEO A&A and understand why we do it.

What we're doing is facilitating the rapid fielding of increased capabilities to enhance the ability of the Soldier and squad to fight, win and survive on the modern battlefield. We do this effectively at the CFT level by focusing on requirements and working with our partners to pursue capabilities that enhance and increase the lethality, mobility, protection and situational awareness of the close combat force.

And we're doing that for the purpose of achieving a clear, decisive and sustainable overmatch against our near-peer adversaries. Let me focus on that statement for just a moment. For a time, early on, after the establishment of Army Futures Command and the CFTs, we talked about near-peer adversaries frequently. That was the phrase we used, and it became a talking point. And talking points eventually become stale if we're not careful. We probably haven't discussed that phrase in a while.

But today, as we share with you that we've reached a major milestone in the pursuit of the next-generation combat weapons that will give our close combat forces the capabilities they need to fill the gaps identified in the small arms, ammunition, configurations study of 2017, I want to emphasize that the goal remains the same. We are here to establish and maintain overmatch against near-peer adversaries. And that is more urgent and relevant today than any time in recent history.

The 2017 SAAC study validated a standing requirement for increased energy at the target and identified the need to reduce shooter error through advance fire control capabilities. The next-generation program began in 2018 to meet that need, encounter and defeat emerging protected and unprotected threats.

As the director of the Cross-Functional Team and the commandant of the U.S. Army Infantry School, I am committed to that mission. We are one giant step closer to achieving overmatch against global adversaries and threats that emerge on the battlefields of today and tomorrow. We are simply pausing here to acknowledge that we have arrived at a milestone in this process with the award of a vendor contract. 

We should note that this is the first time in our lifetime, the first time in 65 years the Army will field a new weapon system of this nature, a rifle and automatic rifle, a fire control system and a new caliber family of ammunition. 

This is revolutionary. And we arrived at this point in record time because we leveraged middle tier of acquisition rapid fielding authorities to enable speed and flexibility in defining requirements, working with our partners in tandem in a process that would have traditionally been linear and may have taken eight to 10 years to complete. And we arrived at this point in roughly 27 months. And that's simply remarkable.

It is necessary for us to develop capabilities at the speed of war. Necessity drives invention. In this case, necessity drives innovation. And the role of the Soldier CFT in this modernization enterprise is to develop capability documents informed by user experiments, assessments and technical demonstrations, and then rapidly transition these approved requirements to our partners in the Army acquisition enterprise. 

We recently demonstrated the success of this process as we recently transitioned enhanced night vision goggle binocular to the maneuver capabilities development integration directorate at Fort Benning.

And I use that example so you and your audiences can appreciate what this part of the process looks like from the start to finish. It is a new way of doing business and it is not without challenges, but it is proving to be efficient and economical. 

To get to this point and in order to ensure Soldier acceptance, the NGSW team conducted 18 Soldier touchpoints and more than 100 technical subtests. More than 500 Soldiers, Marines and special operations Soldiers contributed to 20,000 hours of user feedback. This is a process driven by data and shaped by the user. The close combat force Soldier will ultimately benefit on the battlefield. The Soldiers have never seen a full suite of capabilities in one integrated system. We committed to kitting the Soldier and the squad as an integrated combat platform in order to introduce and enhance capabilities holistically. And we are committed to creating an architecture that facilitates technology growth and capability integration across those platforms. That is what we are getting after with the system, having advanced capabilities in one integrated system will enhance Soldier lethality and ensure we maintain overmatch. 

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to today's questions. And now I will hand it off to Brigadier General Bill Boruff. 

BRIGADIER GENERAL WILLIAM BORUFF: Good morning, everybody. I'm Brigadier General Bill Boruff. I'm the programming executive officer for armaments and ammunition. What a truly monumental and exciting day for the United States Army. As the Colonel Madore and General Burris have mentioned, the next generation squad weapon and ammunition will provide an immense increase in capability for the close combat force. As JPEO-A&A, I'm honored to be assigned with providing world-class ammunition for the new 6.8 millimeter caliber for the next generation's squad weapons for the decades to come. 

The next generation squad weapon will be filled up with a full suite of 6.8 ammunition to support both combat and training. The key combat cartridge for the system leverages the technology successfully demonstrated in various small caliber improvements. It builds upon the enhanced performance round, the EPR, in our current 5.56 inventory and enhancements in other calibers to address a broad spectrum of targets. Soldier feedback has been very positive on the 5.56 EPR, again, the extended enhanced performance round. And the cartridge since entered -- its introduction since 2010. However, the current 5.56 cartridge has been maxed out from the performance perspective. The new weapon, with its increased operating pressure and size allows the Army to significantly increase the performance capability of the ammunition. These advanced -- these advances allow Soldiers at the squad level to deliver improved target defeat at higher energies to advanced threats at extended ranges. Over the next couple of years, additional ammunition technologies such as reduced range ammunition will be fielded to allow further flexibility for Soldiers to train with existing infrastructures. 

One key challenge my office and the Army faces is equipping the warfighter force with the new caliber of ammunition. The Army has not introduced a new caliber for about 65 years, as was said earlier. Doing so required extensive coordination with the stakeholders across the enterprise to develop combat and training requirements, production capability, as well as budgeting for procurement. Current ammunition is such that the availability is almost an afterthought. You go to the supply point, you pick up your ammunition, and you go out to the range, and you fire your 5.62. This is because the Army has spent decades refining its process to ensure sufficient inventory of 5.56 ammunition is available and the industry base is present to continue replenishing on a consistent basis.  

Now consider preparing a new weapon fielding starting with absolutely zero inventory and the industrial base being established. It's daunting – it’s daunting, indeed.

My team has coordinated with PEO Soldier and PEO Lethality CFT to lay out a course to support readiness through the building of the industrial base at both Sig-Sauer and the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.

The Lake City Army -- Army Ammunition Plant has already been providing projectiles for Sig-Sauer and the other competitors during the prototyping phase and will continue to provide all projectiles as we move forward.

We're going to build an interim capability for full cartridge by modifying some -- some of the existing equipment and floor space while a new building is being constructed to provide the necessary enduring capability.

The timing of the interim and enduring capability is coupled with the Sig-Sauer's ramping up their capabilities to provide the Next Generation Squad Weapon ammunition requirements to build combat and training inventories while supporting ongoing training.

We're -- we are prepared to support the Army by delivering the family of 6.8 Next Generation Squad Weapon ammunition for combat and training. This will equip the close combat forces, enabling it to be ready through fire -- through live fire training and to address any threat it may encounter on the battlefield.

This is truly an exciting day. The real work of the ammunition community and the Next Generation Squad Weapon program goes into overdrive starting right now. So thank you very much. I look forward to your questions.

COL. MADORE: During this program and over the past several years, PEO Soldiers collaborated and worked closely with a Soldier -- Soldier lethality cross-functional team, as well as the Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition.

As an integrated team, we conducted numerous testing events that included over 1,000 Soldiers and resulted in over 20,000 hours of Soldier feedback on the prototype systems during -- during the competition. 

We took the users' requirements provided to us -- to us from the Soldier lethality cross-functional team, provided those requirements to each of the Next Generation Squad Weapon competitors, and allowed our industry partners to make system design trades in order to best address our requirements. 

We also allowed industry to innovate and iterate throughout the process so each company could provide the best, most capable systems possible. The Army has been fully transparent throughout testing and we've provided all of the collected test data back to each company so each of them could continue to improve their designs.

This competition has worked as we intended. During the development and testing phase, industry provided the Army with systems that have significantly more capability than the M249 and M4 that they will replace in the close combat force.

We have also leveraged the middle tier of acquisition authorities in order to accelerate system development, production and fielding timelines so we can get this -- the Next Generation Squad Weapon into the hands of our Soldiers as quickly as possible.

After all was said and done and the selection process was complete, the Sig-Sauer rifle and automatic rifle solutions, with their integrated ammunition, were determined to be the best value to the government. 

We would like to thank each of the competitors for their Next Generation Squad Weapon submissions and for participating in the Next Generation Squad Weapon's competition. This strong competition ensured that we will continue to field the best possible small arms capabilities to our warfighters. Thank you for attending. I look forward to your questions.

STAFF: Thank you, panel, for those opening comments. We’ll begin with questions in the room, we'll start with Todd South from Army Times. And as you ask the -- ask the question, would you state your name and affiliation for recording? Todd, over to you.

TODD SOUTH: Todd South, Military Times, Army Times. Just two kind of overview questions for whoever's the most appropriate to answer. You mentioned Sig-Sauer winning the competition. Could you clarify or provide more details as to why Sig-Sauer specifically won over its competitor? And secondarily, more of a forward timeline on first unit equipped and ammunition delivery?

COL. MADORE: Sir, if it's OK, I'll -- I'll address the selection process. So as -- as many of you are probably aware, we conducted -- over the last two years, we conducted extensive testing, really in two phases. The first phase was -- was prototype testing, phase one, where we did Soldier touch points and the -- and the technical testing that General Burris referenced in his opening remarks, and that was really a diagnostic phase. So all that data went back to industry and that's where they were allowed a -- a -- a period of time to iterate on their designs and address those shortfalls and make those trades that I -- I -- I mentioned in my opening remarks.

Then we went into phase two portion, and this was the four records. So they -- we took the -- the -- the updated designs, the iterated designs, we put them through those same battery of tests, provided all of that information back to industry, and then we went into the source selection process. 

And at that point, all of the factors were weighed, and -- and in the end, like I said, Sig-Sauer was determined to be the best value and -- and ultimately won the competition.

GEN. BURRIS: With -- with respect to first unit equipped, we anticipate now the OT occurring in third quarter of F.Y. '23 and then first unit equipped around fourth quarter '23. So that's -- that's what we're looking at right now.

JEFF SCHOGOL: Thank you. Just a -- a follow up -- sorry, Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose. A follow up for Brigadier General Burris. You said the first unit equipped was -- was fourth quarter '23. How long is it going to take to field all of the weapons and ammunition to the close combat force?

GEN. BURRIS: So the -- the fielding of the weapon is based upon ammunition production. So as the vendor is able to produce ammunition and then Lake City ultimately comes on, what we don't want to do is field a capability to a unit where we don't have training ammunition or contingency ammunition if required. And so that -- what -- that's what drives the fielding of the weapon and -- and so -- the types of units that we would field it to initially.

JEFF SCHOGOL: And Brigadier General Boruff, how long is it going to take to come up with a -- a reservoir of 6.8 millimeter ammunition adequate enough to field all of the weapons?

GEN. BORUFF: So thank you for the question. I think we -- we are going to start working with Sig-Sauer, now that that -- they've been identified. We already have started preparing the site for the new building. The new building will be stood up in Lake City Army Ammunition Plant and it will start producing around F.Y. '25, '26.

We'll work with Sig-Sauer. We are -- we're clearing some space now at the -- at the Lake field -- Lake City facility to start the production but we -- we will have those -- those -- when it's time for them to field it in '23 and '24, we'll have enough reserve ammunition for the units to go forward to be fielded, and -- and there's no -- there's going to be no delay in the fielding plan right now as -- on the ammunition side. We'll have the capability to produce the ammo as -- as the -- the units are fielded.

STEVE BEYNON: Steve Beynon, Military.com. Could you talk a little bit about what is the first unit that's going to be fielded the new weapons in F.Y. '23? How's that being selected? And can you talk a little bit about the $20 million contract, what is that actually buying? It doesn't sound like a lot. I mean, we've spent four times that on the ACFT in the last couple of years, so.

GEN. BURRIS: So -- so the -- the -- the actual unit that will be fielded first, that's a -- I don't want to get out in front. That's an Army senior leader decision. And so, you know, it's incumbent on -- upon us to provide options with -- along with U.S. Army Forces Command on who that first unit will be. But I appreciate the question.

    (Inaudible)

ASHLEY ROQUE: Hi, I'm Ashley Roque with Janes. I just wanted to go back to the competition, Colonel. Were all three companies still left at the final -- before you made the down select or the Textron or the other company get pushed out before, if you could sort of detail what transpired?

COL. MADORE: Sure. So as we went through the -- so the competition was three vendors. We had Sig Sauer, we had what was originally GDOTS that novated their contract to LoneStar Future Weapons and then the Textron.

And then though the testing what we determined was -- and those were all under other transaction agreements (OTAs) during the prototyping phase and what was determined was that Textron had not met the success criteria of their OTA and were excluded from the final competition because of that.

ASHLEY ROQUE: Are you able to detail sort of what that issue was and sort of when was that point that they were exclusive. 

COL. MADORE: It was prior to the RFP submissions, which went into the source selection but I'm -- I'm not at liberty to talk to details on -- on that criteria.

JOHN ISMAY: Hi, John Ismay with the New York Times. 

I was wondering if you could tell does this new 6.8 round penetrate level 4 plates? And also what is introducing a new caliber like this mean for NATO standardization?

GEN. BURRIS: So I can't get into specifics of what capability provides but it does provide greater energy against protected and none protected targets at various ranges. And so I can't really go into the rest of that on that.

So it does -- it's a much greater capability. In terms of NATO caliber, our partners, specifically some of our Five Eye partners are aware of the program and I -- and this is not intended to -- you know to -- to replace 7.62 or 5.56 as a NATO ammunition capability. We will continue to retain M4s and M249s and M240 Bravos outside of the closed combat force. And I don't know if anybody wants to add on to that.

GEN. BORUFF: From the ammunition piece, just so this forum knows, we will continue to produce 5.56 and 7.62 at the current rates we're at now. That -- we're not slowing down that production. So we have the no -- no draw back in that capability. We're building a new 6.6 -- 6.8 millimeter facility that will house -- plenty of space to house that and some other programs where we have the facility. So at Lake City there's no reduction in production for any of those rounds.

JOHN ISMAY: Can you speak with the production of what you hope to achieve at the new facility, like how many rounds per year. 

GEN. BORUFF: So we -- we just found out that Sig Sauer got it and you see the hybrid case. So we're going to work with how we develop and set that system up. The way the contract’s laid out, Sig Sauer will be the -- they were providing ammunition initially for like three to five years.

We'll start producing the ammunition at Lake City at that point. And then at -- at seven to eight years down the line we'll take the lead and Sig Sauer will remain our second source. 

Not to get too detailed on that but we always like to have a second source in case something happens at a plant. So Sig Sauer will stay involved in this as we move forward with the hybrid ammunition.

We'll -- the production numbers, we're still working that with Sig Sauer as we just found out who won. And we'll -- we'll be able to answer that at a later date.

MATT SEYLER: Hi, Matt Seyler ABC News. Colonel, and with the competition, were these two weapon systems treated as a package or -- or were they competing independently. In other words, could Sig Sauer have won a contract for one and not the other?

COL. MADORE: We've -- that's a good question. We -- we left it open such that we could make that decision during the competition. The limiting factor is the unique ammunition that is -- is specific to the solution for the AR and the rifle for the vendor because of each of the ammunition cartridges are vastly different, right.

So as we were going through there was obviously a thought given to what that facilitization for two different cartridges would be. And then ultimately as we evaluated it came -- we ended up selecting it as a -- with that in mind as well that -- that both the AR and the rifle from Sig Sauer were the best value.

MATT SEYLER: Thank you.

ETHAN STERENFELD: Hi, Ethan Sterenfeld from InsideDefense. I wanted to ask General Boruff, why won't production of the 5.56 rounds fall?

GEN. BORUFF: It -- it may be reduced in the out years based on requirements and what will happen is that the 5.56 we have a -- we have an agreement with the contractor at that runs it, it's a government owned contract or operator facility.

Right now it's being run by Olin Winchester as you know. So as our numbers will go down that capacity and capability will probably go the commercial side. But the important point there is if we ever had to ramp up for war, speed of war as mentioned earlier, we'll still have the capability.

Than the commercial production at said plant will always focus on the governments requirements first. So the requirements will go down eventually but we still have a big part of our force that will be using 5.56 and 7.62 as we move in the future. Even -- even as we move past the -- the fielding of the weapon to all the units for the closed combat fight.

ETHAN STERENFELD: And then just as a follow-up, right. As a follow-up, will Soldiers than continue to use the M4 in exercises with NATO allies or will they bring their own logistics for -- for ammo?

GEN. BURRIS: So I think that depends on what type of unit you're talking about, right. The close combat force, you know, which is a 11 Bravo infantry men, its 19 Delta cavalry scouts, it's 12 Bravo combat engineers, 68 Whiskey medics, and then 13 Foxtrot forward observers that are actually a close combat force.

As they get fielded 6.8 they would have their 6.8 weapons with them obviously as the primary weapon system. Other folks in those organizations will continue to bring, you know, use the current M4 and the M249s and the M240s moving forward. 

Does that answer your question?

ETHAN STERENFELD: It does. Thank you.

GEN. BURRIS: Thanks.

MIKE GLENN: Yes. Mike Glenn with the Washington Times. Were the other services going to be adopting these rifles as well? What's their take on them? Specifically, as to what the Marines think about it.

GEN. BURRIS: So right now this an Army program, as I mentioned earlier, sir. We had -- we had Marines that were involved in the Soldier touch points providing feedback.

So I just -- I can't answer the question whether -- whether the other services will interested in that or not. I don't know, Scott, if you've got anything on it.

COL. MADORE: They -- I mean they have expressed interest but I think the Army is taking the lead on this and, you know, whether they decide to adopt it or not is really on -- on the surface. But to General Burris' point, they were actively involved in all our Soldier touch points and testing during the prototype phase.

So we -- we have gotten their feedback and they have expressed interest.

MIKE GLENN: So -- so you're not choosing the -- the weapons for everybody in the Department of Defense. It's just certainly at this point an Army program. 

COL. MADORE: This is strictly for the close combat force in the Army, sir.

MIKE GLENN: OK.

STAFF: OK. At this point we'll take questions from the phone lines. We have Caitlyn Kenney from Defense One. Go ahead with your question.

CAITLYN KENNEY: How many rifles, auto weapons and the ammo is in that first order for the 20 million and then how many years do you expect it will take to complete?

COL. MADORE: So the -- thank -- thank you for the question. It's Col. Scott Madore. The first order of that 20.4 million is really to start the process of developing the production line at Sig Sauer. So as we ramp up -- so it's very small quantity. I think and if I remember correctly in the range of about 25 rifles, about 15 ARs, a large quantity of ammo because like General Burris and General Boruff mentioned, that's really a limiting factor in our -- in the -- in the strategy. So like it -- like I said, it's a very small quantity of weapons just to start establishing the production line and proving that production line out, and then it'll ramp up over time.

BG BORUFF: As far as the ammo goes, we will surpass that. We'll work with Sig Sauer now that we know who it is, we'll make sure they have the capability at their plant. We've already prebuilt a lot of the projectiles. We're going to send them to them now, and they'll start building ammunition. So it'll build up our war reserves and fielding requirements, and we're -- and we're focusing on the general purpose rounds as we go forward. 

And the first three -- first four rounds are really getting out of F.Y. '23 will be the general purpose, the blank, the drill dummy inert, and then the high pressure. That's with the test cartridge so that we can test some of the pressures in the weapons system as we go forward because we'll refine it now that we know who the winning contractor is whereas there was a lot of touch points you could have on the weapons until we were down selected the ammunition. Now we'll work with that vendor, and we'll actually get ahead of the game until the weapons are starting being produced and we'll start building the war stock and reserves up front.

STAFF: Next from the phone line we'll have Rose Thayer, Stars and Stripes.

CAITLYN KENNEY: Follow up, please? Thanks. Sorry. For the – M4s for the noncombat troops, I mean, is that eventually going to be phased out as the production line ramps up?

GEN. BURRIS: So right now, the Army's senior leaders have only decided to field this particular -- these two weapons systems to the close combat force. Again, those military occupational specialties I mentioned a few minutes ago, which, you know, historically overtime have sustained 80 percent of the casualties in combat. And so, that's the focus of these two weapons systems for the foreseeable future until a decision's made by the Army's senior leaders. The other forces will continue to use the M4 and the M249.

STAFF: OK, Rose. Your question?

ROSE THAYER: Yes, thank you. I was wondering if you could first talk about, you know, what excites you about what the new weapon does that the old one didn't? And then as a follow up, what are you hearing from Soldiers as they were testing and what they say they really like about it?

GEN. BURRIS: So -- go ahead.

COL. MADORE: So...

GEN. BURRIS: Go ahead.

COL. MADORE: So I'll speak first I guess. Sorry. So the -- I mean, the capability increase that these weapons provide over the M4 and the M249 is what's really exciting. It's a significant change. The way it fires, the way when it -- when you apply the fire control, which was previous awarded back in January, when you apply that to these weapons systems it improves or increases the probability of it for the individual Soldier, reduces aim error, and it's a game changer. So that's really what excites me about these two systems as we saw them go through testing.

GEN. BURRIS: Yes. Hey, this is Larry Burris. If I could add onto that, I mean, in addition to the accuracy provided by the next-generation fire control systems which you also have this much greater energy at the target -- whether it's protected or unprotected at various ranges. And so, it's a -- it's a much greater energy on the target.

GEN. BORUFF: And from the ammunitions side, it's exciting for us because, as I said in my opening comments, the 5.56 we've had great success with enhanced performance round, but we've kind of maxed out that capability in the 5.56, so this will give us with the over pressures, we'll be able to adjust the ammo and get more opportunity as we fill ammo projectiles out in the future. So it gives us more capability to enhance the weapon in the future where we had kind of maxed out on the 5.56. So from the ammunition perspective it's very exciting.

GEN. BURRIS: And just if I could go-- this is Larry Burris again. If I could talk about Soldier feedback, I mean, Soldier feedback was provided, you know, based upon each weapon prototype that was provided by the vendors. And so, as a Soldier received a weapon from a vendor, they would provide feedback on that particular weapons system. It was not compared against other weapons systems. It was here. Here's a rifle from a vendor. Let's go shoot it, provide feedback, and that's what was provided back to the PEO and then to the vendors on the individual weapons systems. And that's how the Soldier feedback was done.

And so, it wasn't a comparison. It wasn't a comparison from one vendor to another or an M4 to another weapons system. It was here's a rifle. Go shoot it.

STAFF: OK, the next question will come from Defense Daily, Matt Beinart.

MATT BEINART: Hi. Thank you. I was wondering what is the expected ceiling value for the 10-year contract with Sig Sauer? And then is the overall acquisition objective still around 250,000 weapons and 150 million rounds of ammunition? And then I have a separate quick follow up. Thank you.

COL. MADORE: I'm sorry. I missed the first part of your question. Can you say that again, please?

MATT BEINART: Yes. Just what is the expected ceiling value for this 10-year deal with Sig Sauer? Thank you.

COL. MADORE: So the ceiling value on the -- on this contract is $4.7 billion. Now there's 10 -- there are 10 discreet ordering periods, annual ordering periods, and the -- I'll make a correction. I think General Burris can give you the actual AAO number, but the number that's in the contract of up 250,000 is what we anticipate we can procure within that. That is not the AAO. That allows for additional customers with its other services like the Marines if they choose to adopt this system, but it is not what the AAO is.

GEN. BURRIS: Yes. The AAO is based upon the numbers of (inflows ?) combat force, which is roughly 120,000, right? So the five military occupational specialties I mentioned previously as well as Army Special Operations Forces. So it's roughly 120,000. 
GEN. BORUFF: And the ammunition window you gave was for additional customers also. So we are going to be able to field that ammunition for that package based on the current orders that we've got projected, and we'll have the capability to flex out in the out years as was said earlier. 

Once we -- once we reach all of the storage requirements, go to war storage if you will, training requirements, we can slow down that production and perhaps open it up to commercial vendors like we do with the other calibers, but that will be way down the road, '29 and beyond until we get to that level.

MATT BEINART: Great, thank you. And if I could just ask a quick follow up. Can you detail the tail end of the 27-month, you know, testing and evaluation process? When did that officially wrap up? You know, when were kind of the last Soldier touch points that informed the kind of final decision making that went into this award? Thank you.

COL. MADORE: Yes. So that -- so that testing wrapped up in the August of '21, early September of '21 timeframe, and then that's the point where we went into the source selection process, received proposals and an evaluation of those proposals. So the testing was in the August, early September timeframe of last year.

STAFF: We have one more question on the phone line, then I'll circle back to the room. So Warzone, Dan Parsons.

DAN PARSONS: Can you talk a little bit about the performance of SIG's hybrid round versus some of the other designs that were in the competition? Mainly that you stuck with a brass, metal casing versus polymer. And, you know, what you found when you were --

GEN. BORUFF: As far as the competition goes for the ammunition requirement was to be less than 7.62, which it was. And that was the big design factor was the weight. So, that's why you have a split design to keep it under the weight and we look forward to working with Sig as we go Sig Sauers look forward to build that capability at -- our at our plant, at our Army ammunition plant in Lake City, as I said earlier. So, it's an exciting time on the ammunition side. Colonel Madore?

COL. MADORE: Thank you, sir. I -- and I -- if I can add onto that too. So, while you can't really make a comparison of one cartridge projectile integrative solution to -- from one vendor to another, I would say as we went through evaluations, it was -- they were evaluated as a total system. 

So, rifle with integrated, unique cartridge to those systems and automatic rifle with the integrated -- the same integrated cartridge. So, as far as the performance of one cartridge projectile solution to another, it's a hard comparison to make because it was evaluated as a total system. 

And we gave industry that flexibility that in the beginning we said here is the 6.8 projectile, design me a system, that's cartridge -- that's integrated cartridge, that's an automatic rifle and a rifle, you know, give us that solution. And here's your -- here's your requirements that you can trade across. So.

STAFF: OK, we'll go back to the room. Ashley.

ASHLEY ROQUE: Hi. I wanted to follow-up. So, you ended testing in September. Could you sort of -- I guess a two-part question, walk us through what took so long to make the final down select? And then also since you’ve done like 18-Soldier touch points and so much test and evaluation before, sort of what is the timetable between now and the end of FY'23 when you reach that first unit equipped?

COL. MADORE: Yes, thank you. So, like I said, the -- we ended testing in the August, September timeframe. Those are obviously each of the vendors were required to submit a proposal, right, with all their data that we provided to them as well additional information, cost, et cetera. 

And then we had to go into the -- you know -- there was a team that went through the standard source selection procedures, right? And we also leveraged a unique -- not unique, it's a statutory authority that allows us to go from a prototyping OTA into a production vehicle, whether that's a FAR-based, federal acquisition regulation based contract or an other transaction authority. 

So, there's some additional time in that approval process to make that transition that took the time. So, it's still -- in total, again, 27 months plus a few months on the end to get to the actual award, it's still lightning speed in comparison to other programs. 

And especially when you consider that we're making such a significant change in caliber, first time in 65 years to get to that in 27 months of testing and with as much Soldier touch time and technical testing is pretty significant. 

GEN. BORUFF: Until the down-select we weren't allowed -- we didn't work with any of the vendors on ammunition. So, the exciting point for us is now we can work with Sig Sauer, we can refine some of the pressures in the weapon that will enhance the ammunition as we move forward, just like with the program office now that the selection's been made, we can work closer with that said contractor, the winning contractor, Sig Sauer, and we can continue to refine the ammunition and the weapons as we move forward. That's what's going to happen in that timeframe as we get up -- we get near the first unit equipped.

STAFF: OK. Next would be Steve.

STEVE BEYNON: So, just to make sure I'm tracking this correctly. So, at the end of next year the Army needs to start fielding and creating the ammunition before the weapons get to the unit. At that point the weapons would start getting to infantry and the cav scouts and stuff like that. So, we'll be spending the next decade or so sort of issuing that out to active duty and National Guard units?

And then there's no real plans as to moving to like 42 Alphas or non-combat arms?

GEN. BORUFF: I'll start on the ammo, since that's what you started with. And just to restate it correctly. So, Sig Sauer, by the contract, they will be the initial producer of the ammunition. So, they're producing the ammunition now, just like all the vendors did for all the testing, we provide projectiles so that they will have the capability to start producing the ammo for the training and the war reserves now. 

They'll do that for -- and we will -- now that we can work with them we'll start building that capability, interim capability at Lake City. The new plant will open in 2026 and we'll start taking the lead away from our second source around that timeframe. But the ammunition is being built as we sit here now. 

We sent additional millions of projectiles to whoever the winning vendor was, so now they can increase and produce more general purpose ammunition. But, they're doing it right now. And I think the way you said it, we were waiting for Lake City. We're not waiting. They're the initial source. And will join them, about the '25 timeframe, at the facility. But, we're going to join them soon thereafter and --

STEVE BEYNON: But, you want that ammo stockpile first before the weapons?

GEN. BORUFF: You do have to have the ammo -- we're just -- you have to have enough to field the weapons and you have to have enough for the unit to go war. And I'm getting out of my lane a little bit, so I'll turn it over to General Burris and he'll give you the details on it.

GEN. BURRIS: Yes, just to -- I mean, to -- you touched on something that I failed to mention, that the fielding plan, the general fielding plan, is designed to field to all different types of brigade combat teams in the Army, both Compo 1 and Compo 2. It's not -- this is not something that's going to be fielded to the active force first and then fielded to Compo 2 separately. 

But it won’t go -- it won't go to the 42A's and folks like that. They'll continue to like, for example, the company supply sergeant will continue to carry M-4 or another weapon, not the Next Gen Weapon. Does that -- does that make --

STEVE BEYNON: Yes.

GEN. BURRIS: OK.

TODD SOUTH: Todd South, Army Times. Just a two parter to save time -- could you talk a little bit about the projectile selection? I know initially after the SAAC study it was intermediate, it was six millimeter, but not exactly 6.8 initially. That came a little later. So, first part of the question.

Second part, the fire control that selected, I believe, in January, was any of the testing or evaluation done with the fire control or options thereof with these prototypes or is that coming later? And when will the fire control get with the weapon? 

So, ammo then fire.

GEN. BORUFF: I'll start with the ammo, but you're going to hear him finish it from the PM Office. So, we did look at several types of ammunition first, the SAAC study, narrowed it down to the caliber we went with, 6.8. And then, we provided the projectile and it was all about energy on target and the longer ranges. And with that I'll turn it over to the PM Office that made that selections as we went through.

COL. MADORE: Yes, so as -- on the fire control side, the fire control followed a very similar path as the weapons. We did a lot of the testing on M4 and one of the -- and 249. And one of the -- one of the great things about the fire control is the ballistic calculator that's in the fire control can be -- you can put it on any weapon system, right, because it -- the ammunition calculation for drop and other atmospherics is already there. 

So, we can -- we did that fire control very similar. We didn't follow though the two-part selection process, but there was Soldiers in the loop, lots of Soldier feedback, a lot of technical testing. And we did close-up -- because at the same time the weapons were going through their prototype testing, so it was a simultaneous testing process. They did come together during a limited-user evaluation and I forget the timeframe on it. But we did do some evaluation with it on there. But they will be produced and fielded or more importantly fielded together as a total system. Fire control, rifle, AR and appropriate ammunition for it. 

JOHN ISMAY: And a question about terminology. When things like SAW, as a 5.56 weapon that was considered a light machine gun, M249 was a medium machine gun, what are you going to call this? And I was wondering also about the final designations that these weapons will have and what the close combat force buys for each is?

GEN. BURRIS: So the automatic rifle is a light machine gun designed to replace the M249 or the SAW within the close combat force. 

JOHN ISMAY: So it would be an LMG consistent -

GEN. BURRIS: Yes, light machine gun. We consider the M240 to be a medium machine gun type of capability in the platoon. So does that clear it up?

JOHN ISMAY: Right. I mean -- sorry if I misspoke, M240 is a medium machine gun? 

GEN. BURRIS: Correct. 

JOHN ISMAY: I was wondering if this -- so the 6.8 is considered light?

GEN. BURRIS: Yes.

JOHN ISMAY: OK.

GEN. BURRIS: It's the replacement of the M249 with the 5.56.

JOHN ISMAY: And what are the final designations and buys of each for the CCF?

COL. MADORE: Are you referring to --

JOHN ISMAY: M-5 and M250?

COL. MADORE: So, yes, they have an XM nomenclature right now just because we haven't gotten a type classification yet. When we do that and that will be after -- once we're in the fielding they'll make that transition. But it will -- when we make that transition, a nomenclature changes and it will go to M250 and M5 and then the M157 for the fire control.

JOHN ISMAY: And what are the buys for each again, sorry, for the combat force projected?. The projected buys of each weapon for the close combat force?

COL. MADORE: So the close combat force is a total AOR and rifle of about 121,000 systems. I believe it's in the 100, 105 rifle and in the -- about 15 or so -

GEN. BURRIS: Yes, it's 107 in the rifle and approximately 13 in the automatic rifle right now. 

JOHN ISMAY: Thousands?

GEN. BURRIS: Correct. 

JOHN ISMAY: OK, thank you. 

ETHAN STERENFELD: Hi. I was hoping to ask about the common fire control. Has there been any Army studies or projections on whether that will be to different ammunition consumption than with earlier weapons?

COL. MADORE (?): I'm not sure I understand the question.

GEN. BURRIS: I don't think there's been an exact study done on that, sir, but I think we can make the assumption that Soldiers that have greater capability -- I mean we can make the best weapon and the best fire control system but if we don't train ourselves and our Soldiers how to shoot -- the Soldier is the variable here that really -- we all shoot differently and it's a training issue. 

But the fire control takes some of that out so that the -- an average shooter may require less rounds on target to defeat -- to defeat a threat.

ETHAN STERENFELD: And does that influence like how much ammo you're trying to make or is that --

GEN. BORUFF: It has not. 

GEN. BURRIS: It does not. 

GEN. BORUFF: We will -- we will have the initial buys. And I think to your point as -- that's the exciting thing I talked about in my opening comments, as we learn from the new system, if it takes a Soldier less rounds to engage a target then we can adjust it. But we did not adjust it going in, to answer your question.

JEFF SCHOGOL: Thank you. Please, Jeff Schogol of Task & Purpose again. Please let me know if I get anything wrong. Please throw the red flags. It sounds like the $20 million contract is for a total of 40 weapons. So should I say in the fourth quarter of '23 the first Army unit will get a total of 40 weapons? No, go ahead, please correct me.

COL. MADORE: OK, sure. So the 40 or so weapons, give or take a couple, are there to -- so that we can start to ramp up or establish and prove out the production lines at Sig Sauer. So, as you know, as you produce more quantities quality goes up so we need to test it out early and get those to a consistent quality level, right. 

GEN. BORUFF: And the same thing with our ammo. As we're going to facilitize Sig Sauer with some of that funding and we're going to facilitize an interim facility at Lake City while we build the new facility. So it's that cost is all in those initial dollar amounts you see in the P-forms.

JEFF SCHOGOL: And my last question for General Burris, you had said the total buy is for 107,000 rifles and 13,000 light machine guns, by when? When is the --

GEN. BURRIS: That would be to field the entire close combat force. 

JEFF SCHOGOL: Right, by when?

GEN. BURRIS: Well I don't know. I mean that's -- there are a lot of other factors that go into that and budget and things like that that aren't my decision.

JEFF SCHOGOL: Could I range like 10-years?

GEN. BURRIS: I don't remember off the top of mind how far out the fielding plan went so I don't want to give you a bad number.

GEN. BORUFF: The same thing with ammo. We're locked in this current POM cycle which is about five years. Those are future decisions we go out and we'll adjust accordingly as we get the funding in the out years.

STAFF: Are there any additional questions in the room? We have time for two more questions. We'll go with TodD,

TODD SOUTH: You mentioned training in your earlier comment. I'm curious if you could just give a broad view of the coordination with TRADOC and others in preparation for the arrival of this gear. Are we talking about ranges and different maybe TTP issues, could you talk about that also?

GEN. BURRIS: Yes, so I mean in terms of ranges, understanding the energy with this weapon that's why they produced the reduce range ammunition so that we don't have to change our current qualification ranges for this weapon system. So we will continue to use our current ranges on our -- on our installations.

In terms of training, at Fort Benning the Maneuver Center of Excellence, are doctrine folks and training folks are moving forward with the doctrine that will be associated with how do we train with this weapon. 

I anticipate it'll follow a very similar strategy as we do with M4 qualification, for example, with using the Dot-40 or if you're familiar with that, and the six tables. I anticipate a strategy like that -- I mean that's the common weapons training strategy across the Army and I think it will probably be something very similar to that. Does that answer your question?

TODD SOUTH: It does. Just as a side note, as AMU, I know they were involved in some of the caliber discussions years ago. Are they involved in some of the implementation or kind of train the trainer type things?

GEN. BURRIS: So AMU was involved in the Soldier touch points throughout the process. They had their NCOs, non-commission officers, who were involved in testing the weapons and providing feedback as well as the other folks that we mentioned previously.

TODD SOUTH: Thank you.

GEN. BURRIS: OK.

TODD SOUTH: Can we get a breakdown of like that the max effective ranges and weights and stuff like that?

GEN. BURRIS: So I don't think we can talk to -- I can't talk that in this forum. What I will say is it provides greater energy at target again close in and far out than our current systems do.

TODD SOUTH: What about weight? I mean when we say weight could it compare to the M4 and SAW?

COL. MADORE: Do you want me to take that? 

GEN. BURRIS: Yes.

COL. MADORE: So I -- so the weights are -- I'll give a comparison to the M4 and the 249 in general weight difference. So the rifle -- the next gen squad weapon rifle is about two pounds over the M4. Now the automatic rifle is actually four pounds less than the current M249 squad automatic weapon. 

TODD SOUTH: Is that fully loaded or empty?

COL. MADORE: No, that's empty.

TODD SOUTH: Is there ammo difference in weight?

GEN. BORUFF: So the requirement again was it has to be lighter than 7.62 and all three of them were lighter than 7.62 as we went to the competition. And as Colonel Madore said earlier, that ammunition piece was part of the entire system. So but that was a requirement and they all met it.

STAFF: OK, Ashley, I'll give you the last question before we wrap up.

ASHLEY ROQUE: (Inaudible)? And then also sort of how testing and integration with the fire control and IVAS, if that's moving forward?

COL. MADORE: Yeah, so the -- so the IOT&E -- yes, we have a -- we have an IOT&E scheduled third quarter -- I believe it's third quarter of F.Y. '23. When that concludes, we'll go into the first unit equipped. There's some decision points that we've got to make obviously before that, based on what -- the results.

The -- the IVAS and how -- they're two separate programs but that doesn't mean that we're not doing work to make sure that the -- the two are compatible. And so my team is doing a lot of integration work, working with the CFT, as well as the JPEO team, to make sure that -- that that the two function together, that there's -- that there's -- there -- there's good integration there. But there's a lot more to do, right?

So -- but it's -- it's definitely -- integration is definitely something that is of high priority in -- in PEO Soldier, to make sure all of the Soldier kit works -- works functions properly together.

STAFF: OK. At this time, do we have closing comments from the panel?

GEN. BURRIS: So again, thanks for your time today, and again, thank you very much for what you do to -- to share the Army's story and what we're doing here with your audiences. It's important so that the public understands what we're doing.

And so I just want to say thank you.

GEN. BORUFF: I'll echo that. Thanks for your time today and your questions have been fantastic. And hey, this is a really exciting time for the Army. As -- as was said, coming with this new caliber gives us the capability to improve as (inaudible) the future for the ammunition side. That's very exciting.

COL. MADORE: Thanks, sir. Yeah, I think -- I'd like to thank everybody for the questions. They're fantastic questions. I'd also -- like I -- like I stated in my initial remarks, I'd like to thank all of the competitors ‘cause it was a -- it was a fierce competition and there was a lot of communication and full transparency, and it -- and that competition is what makes our process good -- good and -- and gets us to the best capability that we can in getting these systems out to the Soldiers. So thank you.

STAFF: All right. Thank you, everyone. This concludes our media roundtable. Have a good day.

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