Intel

PM Infantry Weapons Undergoing Largest Modernization Effort in Decades

May 21, 2020Katie McCarthy
U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment fire the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle during a live-fire weapons exercise at range F-18 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017. The M27 has been introduced to different units throughout the Marine Corps within the last six months. Photo by Lance Cpl. Michaela R. Gregory/U.S. Marine Corps, Released.

U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment fire the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle during a live-fire weapons exercise at range F-18 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017. The M27 has been introduced to different units throughout the Marine Corps within the last six months. Photo by Lance Cpl. Michaela R. Gregory/U.S. Marine Corps, Released.






Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons has begun a large-scale modernization project to increase the lethality of the infantry squad.


PM IW strives to equip and sustain the Marine Corps with fully integrated infantry weapons, optics, and nonlethal systems for the Ground Combat Element.


The portfolio’s modernization efforts adhere to Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s vision to redesign the force to meet the challenges of a new age of great power competition. Through PM IW, the Corps plans to field numerous new weapon and optic systems over the next decade.


“This is the largest modernization of the infantry squad in the last 25 years,” said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, MCSC’s program manager for Infantry Weapons.


U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Emanuel Luna, a military policeman with I Marine Expeditionary Force, fires his M9 pistol during a live fire range on Camp Pendleton, California, May 7, 2020. Photo by Cpl. Tia D. Carr/(U.S. Marine Corps, Released.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Emanuel Luna, a military policeman with I Marine Expeditionary Force, fires his M9 pistol during a live fire range on Camp Pendleton, California, May 7, 2020. Photo by Cpl. Tia D. Carr/(U.S. Marine Corps, Released.

Strengthening systems


PM IW has begun the procurement of the Modular Handgun System, which will replace all Marine Corps pistols. This striker-fired pistol includes a plastic clip-on piece, enabling Marines to change grip sizes to accommodate different hand sizes. The weapon is compatible with the pistol-aiming module used by some units.


MCSC will begin fielding the system this fiscal year.


“The MHS improves on the precision and reliability of the legacy platforms, while also bringing with it new, more effective ammunition,” said Maj. Mike Brisker, weapons product manager for PM IW.


“In line with the Commandant’s Planning Guidance, we’re looking to lighten the load and increase the overall lethality of Close Combat Forces—specifically infantry Marines.”







MCSC is expanding the use of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. Originally fielded to infantry units as a replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in 2011, the rifle received overwhelmingly positive feedback from Marines. This feedback led to the Marine Corps’ decision to field the M27 to all rifle platoons as their primary individual weapon.


“We expect fielding of [the M27] to conclude by the end of this fiscal year,” said Brisker.


PM IW is also enhancing its optic systems. Fielded in spring 2020, the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle is a helmet-mounted system that offers improved depth perception, and the ability to detect and recognize targets in extreme low light, in inclement weather and in the presence of obscurants. The SBNVG provides additional capabilities that the legacy system, the AN/PVS-14, lacked.


Sergeant Dominic Sharpsteensurina, a native of Apple Valley, California, and an assault section leader with Weapons Platoon, Charley Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, inspects his PVS-14 night vision system aboard Camp Dwyer, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Sept. 21, 2014. Photo by Cpl. Cody Haas/U.S. Marine Corps, Released.
Sergeant Dominic Sharpsteensurina, a native of Apple Valley, California, and an assault section leader with Weapons Platoon, Charley Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, inspects his PVS-14 night vision system aboard Camp Dwyer, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Sept. 21, 2014. Photo by Cpl. Cody Haas/U.S. Marine Corps, Released.

Since awarding a contract in February 2020, PM IW plans to begin fielding the Squad Common Optic in fiscal year 2021. The SCO includes a magnified day optic, which improves situational awareness, decreases engagement times and increases probability of hit.


“The Squad Common Optic enables Marines to see farther and identify the enemy more quickly,” said Hough.


MCSC is collaborating with other services to field certain systems. For example, the Marine Corps will partner with the Army to procure the Next-Generation Squad Weapon system, intended to replace the M27 and become the primary individual weapon for infantry units.


U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Logan Campbell, a rifleman with Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), fires an M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle during a live-fire range aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Photo by Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck/U.S. Marine Corps, Released.
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Logan Campbell, a rifleman with Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), fires an M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle during a live-fire range aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Photo by Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck/U.S. Marine Corps, Released.

The NGSW will provide a significant boost to the lethality of the individual soldier and Marine. The weapon includes an optic/fire control system that will incorporate a disturbed reticle to improve the shooter’s accuracy.


The Marine Corps could receive first deliveries of the NGSW as early as fiscal year 2025, said Brisker.


Additionally, PM IW and Fleet Marines are participating in the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System and the Enhanced Night Vision-Binocular programs to help inform requirements and programmatic decisions in the future.


Enhancing performance


U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Sean Nash provides cover fire during the Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) at Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Jan. 28, 2020. ITX is a month-long training event that prepares Marines for deployment. Photo by Cpl. Jack C. Howell/U.S. Marine Corps, Released.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Sean Nash provides cover fire during the Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) at Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Jan. 28, 2020. ITX is a month-long training event that prepares Marines for deployment. Photo by Cpl. Jack C. Howell/U.S. Marine Corps, Released.

PM IW’s modernization efforts mirror MCSC’s mission to increase lethality among Marines. The command is continuously striving to equip Marines with the capabilities needed to successfully fulfill missions. To meet this goal, PM IW will continue to solicit feedback from Marines and industry.


“In line with the Commandant’s Planning Guidance, we’re looking to lighten the load and increase the overall lethality of Close Combat Forces — specifically infantry Marines,” said CW4 David Tomlinson, an infantry weapons officer with PM IW.


Tomlinson believes upgrading Infantry Weapon systems will ultimately enhance performance on the battlefield and increase survivability at a time when enemies are strengthening.


“These efforts show we are focused on staying abreast of advancements that are coming quickly,” said Tomlinson. “It also shows our desire to stay persistent, look toward the future, and make sure our Marines receive the best [systems] we can buy.”


This article was originally published on May 19, 2020, by the U.S. Marine Corps.



Katie McCarthy
Katie McCarthy

Katie McCarthy is the managing editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. Her career in journalism began at the Columbus (Georgia) Ledger-Enquirer in 2008, where she learned to navigate the newsroom as a features reporter, copy editor, page designer, and online producer; prior to joining Coffee or Die, she worked for Outdoor Sportsman Group as an editor for Guns & Ammo magazine and their Special Interest Publications division. Katie currently lives in Indiana with her husband and two daughters.

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