A machine gunner with an MG5A2 firing from his hands during the exercise. Loose tape is used. Below is a bag with accessories.
Currently, the Bundeswehr is replacing the honored veteran - the MG3 machine gun with a new - MG5.
The new single machine gun was born as a result of a competition announced in 2008-2009, due to the army's desire to have light, medium, heavy machine guns in service, as well as a medium machine gun with an increased rate of fire.
The customer's goal was to obtain a family of machine guns that are as similar as possible in ergonomics and method of maintenance.
At the time of the assignment, the Bundeswehr was already armed with a light MG4 machine gun of 5,56x45 caliber, developed and produced by Heckler & Koch. MG4 is part of the Infanterist der Zukunft-IdZ program and has entered the army in large numbers since 2004.
A heavy machine gun is also included. This is the Browning M2 12,7x 99 machine gun produced by the Belgian concern FN Herstal SA.
As a medium machine gun with an increased rate of fire, the MG6 is currently used - a modification of the multi-barreled machine gun with a rotating block of barrels (Gatling scheme) M134D manufactured by Dillon-Aero Inc, caliber 7,62x51. It has a theoretical rate of fire of up to 3000 high / min. MG6 is used as an onboard armament for light helicopters of the H145M Light Utility Helicopter Special Operations Forces (LUH SOF), as well as the Serval BRDM.
"Medium machine gun"
The role of the medium machine gun, also called "single", in the Bundeswehr until recently was played by the MG3 of 7,62x51 caliber. According to the charter, he performs tasks
"Automatic destruction of single and group targets on the surface and in the air."
The effective fire range reaches 600 meters when shooting from a bipod and 1200 meters from a gun carriage.
The MG3A1 modification is designed for installation on various combat vehicles, for example, as a paired one with tank cannon, or for installation on remotely controlled combat modules (DUBM), such as the FLW 100 armored vehicles Dingo 2.
According to the Bundeswehr's Office of Armaments, Information Technology and Operations (BAAINBw), the understanding that MG3 has no prospects has appeared a long time ago. The production of this model was discontinued back in 1977, and by now the problem of providing spare parts has become obvious. In addition, due to the design features, MG3 is subject to increased wear in the FLW 100 DBM. The use of new steel core chucks DM151 from Metallwerk Eisenhuette (MEN) also leads to premature barrel wear.
Five firms were invited to take part in the Bundeswehr competition for a new single machine gun. Only two of them responded.
After evaluating the technical and financial components of the submitted projects, only one candidate remained in the game - Heckler and Koch with its sample NK121. Only this manufacturer fulfilled all the customer's requirements. By order of July 10, 2013, the Bundeswehr purchased 65 copies of the machine gun for testing. The order was valued at 2,75 million euros. At the same time, a framework agreement was concluded for the purchase of 7114 machine guns in the amount of 118,4 million euros. In the future, it is planned to acquire another 12 units.
Complex tests of NK121 were carried out in 2014 at the "Test Center 91" (Wehrtechnische Dienststelle WTD 91) in Meppen. During the tests, such shortcomings were identified as cracks in the receiver, increased corrosion under the influence of salt water, increased wear of the barrel when using cartridges with a steel core. As a result of the work carried out, they were eliminated. It was also revealed that the displacement of the midpoint of impact when changing the barrel exceeds the specified terms of reference.
Ultimately, the military agreed to accept weapon as such, but the purchase price has been reduced. The test report (WTD-Nr-91-400-120-14 dated December 8, 2014) states that the parameters of the weapon, its reliability and safety meet the requirements of the technical specifications and NATO standards, and it can be recommended for adoption.
In parallel with the complex, military tests were carried out under the auspices of the ground forces with the involvement of all technical services and supply services of the Bundeswehr. The quality of weapons was checked in conditions close to combat. The result of military trials was the military's demands to make changes to the design. This concerned sighting devices, controls and insufficient stability of the weapon when firing.
The test report of October 20, 2014 assesses the machine gun, which received the military designation MG5, on the whole positively. It also notes that the new machine gun is more compact and more ergonomic than the MG3. It also has a lower rate of fire and recoil, which makes the shooter less tired and contributes to greater accuracy of fire. The ability to install optical sights and night vision devices significantly increases the accuracy of shooting. There were no delays in firing live ammunition.
The disadvantages include the fact that it was not possible to achieve a weight reduction in comparison with the MG3. Another drawback is the lack of a special shutter for firing training ammunition of reduced power, used in training in small shooting ranges and training camps, as well as when practicing anti-aircraft shooting at special stands.
The general conclusion is that the MG5 machine gun can be adopted for service under the following conditions:
- change in the butt design;
- a new fore-end, suitable for attaching to it both a special "assault" bipod handle (bi-pod), and a "full-fledged" steel bipod;
- changing the color of the receiver cover.
After the implementation of these changes, the MG5 machine gun was adopted by a decree of January 29, 2016.
On March 17, 2015, the Bundeswehr ordered the first batch of 1215 MG5 units. The first operator of the new machine gun was the Maritime Technical School in Parov, which received it in 2016. A total of 7 units were ordered, and by 114 more than half of the delivery plan was fulfilled - the customer received 2018 units. They were distributed as follows:
- Ground Forces - 2 800;
- Joint support forces (German die Streitkräftebasis) - 750;
- Medical and sanitary service - 200;
- Naval forces - 270;
- Air Force - 270.
The machine gun is available in three versions.
MG5 is the standard version with a 550 mm barrel. It is used both as an easel (on a gun carriage) and as a manual one. Installation of a bipod or an "assault" bipod handle is possible.
MG5A1– is designed for installation on various combat vehicles, for example, on remotely controlled combat modules (DUBM). The barrel length is also 550 mm. The butt and other attributes of infantry weapons are missing. The descent is carried out from the corresponding elements of the vehicles - carriers.
MG5A2 is a shortened "infantry" version. Barrel length - 450 mm. The rest is similar to the standard one.
The device and the principle of operation
The MG5 machine gun uses gas-operated automatics. The barrel is locked by turning the bolt. The fire is conducted from an open bolt. The machine gun is powered by a loose or non-scatter metal tape with an open link, which is fed from the left side of the weapon.
In the infantry version, the tape is in the bag, which is attached to the bottom of the weapon, in its center. This provides a good balance when carrying. The ejection of the casings occurs to the right downward in order to avoid jamming the weapon with these casings in the event of their reflection from any obstacles.
Using the gas regulator on the gas block, the rate of fire can be set to 640, 720 or 800 rounds per minute.
The barrel is equipped with a folding handle for carrying and changing the barrel. Under the receiver is a trigger box with a pistol grip, which also has a double-sided safety lever. Safety lock is possible at any position of the shutter.
MG5 and MG5A2 consist of the following main elements: receiver, cover, tape receiver, connecting block, butt, barrel, forend, bolt, trigger box with pistol grip, bipod. In addition, there is a device for firing blank cartridges.
The weapon comes with an extensive set of accessories: tools, an additional cheek piece, two heat-shielding barrel covers, an anti-aircraft sight, a spare barrel, eight protective muzzle plugs, a belt bag mount, three such bags, each of which holds 80 rounds, as well as accessories for carrying these bags on the unloading system, assault grip with adapter, telescopic sight, cleaning tools, bags for a spare barrel and accessories.
The massive cast steel receiver is the main supporting element of the entire structure. The cover, tape receiver, connecting block and trigger box are attached to it with the help of captive screws.
A gas block, a bipod, a barrel mounting mechanism with a locking lever are attached to the front of the receiver. In order to avoid unintentional barrel detachment, the locking lever cannot be turned when the carrying handle is folded back and the barrel is changed.
On the right is the cocking handle. Inside the receiver there are bolt guides. In its lower part there is a liner ejection window with a dust cover. A cartridge bag and (if necessary) a sleeve bag are attached to the brackets in front of the ejection window. On the gas block, at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock there are Mil-Std 1913 mounting plates. The barrel guard is also attached to it. Directly behind the mounting strips is the front, and on the back of the receiver - the rear mounting to the carriage. There are swivels on the sides of the receiver and on the back of the gas block.
The top of the receiver is closed by a lid. A magazine receiver and a tape feed mechanism are installed on the cover. The lid folds up and forward. In open and closed state, it can be fixed. The tape feed mechanism is activated when the shutter rolls back and rolls. The cover also has a sensor to indicate the presence or absence of a cartridge on the feed chute.
The MG5 machine gun is equipped with a 550 mm barrel, and the MG5A1 - 450 mm. The barrels have four right-hand grooves. On the muzzle there is a thread for installing a flame arrester.
The vent tube is located at the front of the barrel. The bottom of the barrel covers a plastic forend, fixed to the receiver. Also, a bipod is attached to the gas block, which, when folded, hides in the corresponding forearm bosom.
For handheld shooting, including on the move, an assault handle can be installed on the mounting plate from below. On the side strips, for example, a laser designator.
The bolt consists of a bolt itself, a bolt carrier with a piston, a striker and a control roller. The bolt lugs are located in two rows - three in the front and four in the back row. A spring-loaded ejector is located at the bottom of the bolt between the lugs. A control roller at the top of the bolt carrier drives the tape feed mechanism. The damper on the connecting block dampens the blows of the shutter when it is rolled back.
In addition, the connection block carries two return springs with guide rods. This block closes the rear of the receiver and is connected to it with two captive screws.
The plastic telescopic stock is adjustable in length and can be fixed in six positions. The stock is equipped with a height-adjustable cheek piece and sling swivels for the belt. It can be folded to the left and locked in this position.
The trigger box with a pistol grip is also made of plastic. A double-sided fuse is also installed on it. It is also connected to the receiver by means of a captive screw.
The machine guns of both "infantry" modifications are equipped with a ZO 4x30i RD-MG5-BW optical sight made by Hensoldt, a backup mechanical sight and an anti-aircraft sight. The mechanical sight consists of a folding front sight on the barrel and a folding rear sight with a V-shaped notch mounted on the receiver cover. Both front sight and rear sight have white contrasting marks for quick target acquisition. The front sight is adjustable vertically and horizontally.
The anti-aircraft sight, if necessary, is installed on the Picatinny rail on the receiver cover. To do this, you need to remove the optical sight. It is used in conjunction with a standard front sight.
MG5 and MG5A2 machine guns can be equipped with WBZG thermal imaging sights, NSV 600 night mounts or IRV 600 infrared mounts.
Technical characteristics of machine guns
MG5 machine guns are modern weapons that, thanks to their modular design, provide versatility. Their ergonomics are identical to the MG4 light machine guns, making training easier. The fourfold optical sight, in comparison with the mechanical one in the MG3, provides a more effective search for targets, their identification and accurate destruction.
Also, MG5 has less recoil compared to MG3, which positively affects the effectiveness of fire both from the bipod and from the hands - the weapon quickly returns to the aiming line after the turn. Effective guards ensure safe handling of this weapon. MG5 is better balanced than MG3, making it more convenient to carry.
Some disadvantages should be noted. Some users find the MG5's maximum rate of fire of 800 rpm to be insufficient. For MG3 it is 1 hpm. One of the requirements of the terms of reference was the ability to use the carriage from MG200, but in reality the carriage needed to be refined.
The MG5 is the successor to the MG3, a true icon of the German gun school.
Let's hope that the new machine gun will meet all the requirements of the Bundeswehr.
Translation of the article "Der Umstieg auf das MG5" published in the German "Weapon magazine" ("Deutsche Waffenjournal") Nr11 / 2020
Illustrations: Deutsche Waffenjournal