US Special Forces are looking for a new weapon- the contract has already gone to FN. It’s to be a modular weapon built as a Light and Heavy version, the former being in 5.56mm, the latter in 7.62mm NATO. Part of the modularity of the design will be to allow calibre changes, initially in the 7.62mm NATO to 7.62mm Russian. No word on a calibre change from 5.56mm- and the Light version is the one which will be bought in the largest numbers.
The FN built weapon seems to be an updated version of their FNC rifle, specs of which can be found here and here. Essentially the FNC is a seventies-era weapon which borrows heavily from the classic Kalashnikov design. So far, I’ve been unable to find any details on the weapon itself but no doubt Airborne Combat Engineer will be the place to look out for this. Robinson Armament does have their own SCAR rifle, produced to compete for this contract, and for a look at what the FN was up against you can go here. The description of the weapon is basically “reliable as an AK, feel of an M4”. It’ll be interesting to see what the specs of the FN are.
Got to wonder why they don’t just pick up an AK, slap some Picatinny rails onto it, and go with that? The basic Kalashnikov design is already produced in 5.45mm, 5.56mm, 7.62mm Russian and 7.62mm NATO. Maybe that’s just too low-tech, cost-saving an approach? I know that with the many complaints about the 5.56mm’s lethality, there are calls for a return to 7.62 NATO, but personally I think that 7.62 Russian is plenty bullet for the task in hand. The vast majority of combat takes place at ranges of 200 yards and closer and I don’t see how stepping back past one of the greatest advances in small arms (the 7.62mmX39 cartridge and the Kalashnikov design) is going to be a big improvement. Of course, this is a weapon for Special Operations and so they will have a better ability to fine tune their mission specific equipment, but even at that I’ve got to say that the ‘baby’ 7.62 is my preferred calibre.