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U.S. Army Seeks 5.56mm Armor Piercing Cartridges

In much the same way that the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division has fostered the development of new 5.56mm and 7.62mm ball ammunition, designated MK318 MOD0 and MK319 MOD0 respectively, to optimize the performance of the new MK16 and MK 17 Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifles (SCAR), U.S. Army planners are seeking to expand the fielding of ammunition to enhance some tactical aspects of its currently fielded 5.56mm weapons.

In late March 2009, the U.S. Army Office of the Project Manager, Maneuver Ammunition Systems (OPM MAS), located at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., announced that it was “seeking sources for the manufacture and delivery of 5.56mm, M995 Armor Piercing (AB33) Cartridges.”

“The 5.56mm AP cartridges provide enhanced penetration capabilities against lightly armored vehicles and fortifications as compared to the standard 5.56mm, M855,” the announcement read. “The 5.56mm, M995 will be used in the M16 rifle, the M4 carbine and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.”

5.56mm

U.S. Army Spc. Francisco Jimenez, an infantryman assigned to Personal Security Detail, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, fires a round from an M4 carbine during marksmanship sustainment training in Mosul, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2010. The M4 Carbine is one of the weapons to which a 5.56mm, M995 Armor Piercing (AB33) Cartridges Round will be tailored. U.S. Army photo by Pvt. 1st Class Angel Washington

It went on to estimate desired FY10 quantities for the M995 as approximately 17.5 million rounds.

A subsequent announcement clarification issued on July 6, 2009, clarified that “there is no current U.S. Government Technical Data Package available for this item,” and that OPM MAS is “seeking contractor developed designs for the 5.56mm, M995 Armor Piercing (AP) Cartridge.”

In late March 2009, the U.S. Army Office of the Project Manager, Maneuver Ammunition Systems (OPM MAS), located at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., announced that it was “seeking sources for the manufacture and delivery of 5.56mm, M995 Armor Piercing (AB33) Cartridges.”

“The Government contemplates testing contractor designs to determine their capability against the performance specifications,” it noted, acknowledging that, “These items are currently procured in accordance with Government performance specifications.”

“The Government contemplates soliciting from capable contractors a quantity of 2,000 each of the 5.56, M995 AP cartridges for testing. As a result of entering into any contractual instrument with any contractor, the Government will NOT be sharing any resultant data from Government testing, except perhaps a cursory pass/fail based on current M995 requirements. No quantifiable or comparison data will be released by the Government,” it read.

Industry responses to the request are due by July 21, 2009.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...