FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- A slew of new weapons that will increase the lethality of troops are coming down the pipeline, according to Army officials.
The systems--which include everything from the next-generation squad weapon to machine guns--are within sight, said Lt. Col. Steven Power, the Army's product manager for individual weapons.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the National Defense Industrial Association's Armament Systems Forum in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Power said the significance of soldier weapon systems cannot be overstated.
"The importance of individual soldiers as they made their way onto Omaha Beach and the importance of the individual equipment that they carried is as true today as we face near peer adversaries ... as it was then," he said.
Over the past year, the program office has reached numerous milestones across several portfolios, Power said. One of the biggest was fielding more than 200,000 M4A1 rifles.
The "next-gen [squad weapon] is going to be awesome when it comes out. But in the meantime, the fact that we have put a quarter of a million M4Als in the hands of soldiers in a year is something I'm extremely proud of," he said.
The service has also completed nearly 64,000 M4 to M4A1 product improvement program upgrades to existing systems over the last 12 months, according to Power's presentation slides. It is pursuing the Army acquisition objective of more than 850,000 systems by fiscal year 2022, and is 70 percent there now, he added.
Additionally, there is an M4A1 follow-on competition which will be full and open to industry, Power said. It is currently in source selection and an award will be made in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020.
Power noted that sometimes people wonder why the Army is pursuing a new M4 when it is also going after the next-gen squad weapon program.
"Depending on what happens with next-gen, most of the Army--at least in the short term--is going to continue to have M4s," he noted.
Another large program is the squad designated marksman rifle, he said. The Army has been working to put the system into the hands of soldiers and had its first unit equipped at Fort Bliss, Texas, last year.
"That precision capability in the squad level is tremendously important if we fight a near-peer" competitor, he said.
The service in May also had its first unit equipped for the sub compact weapon--which is also known as the sub machine gun--for protective...