The use of 40-mm grenades reached its maximum during the fighting in Afghanistan. However, the constant development in this area contribute to the fact that these munitions remain popular and are widely used in modern combat situations
Mortality remains one of the priorities for the dismounted soldier and special operations forces (MTR), while many countries in the military debate about the optimal caliber assault and sniper rifles, as well as pistols and revolvers. In Afghanistan, the multinational forces of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) expanded their arsenals and added a 5,56-mm caliber sniper rifle to the traditional 9-mm assault rifles and 7,62-mm pistols. mm assault rifles have a maximum range of real 800 fire meters. In addition, during this conflict, 5,56-mm rifle-grenade automatic grenade launchers entered the armament of branches and settlements in large quantities.
However, besides increasing the range of real fire, another important requirement was the arming of one of the members of the department weapons 7,62 caliber mm. NATO forces have long criticized the 5,56 mm cartridge for its insufficient power and destructive power, which could incapacitate targets for a long time, and even better forever. During the Cold War, the "humane" 5,56-mm bullet was intended not only for the temporary removal of targets from combat, but also for those military personnel who were forced to provide medical assistance.
Nevertheless, the operations of the international contingent in Afghanistan to clean up the territory, as well as to clean up the buildings of the American army in Iraq, have shown that soldiers need a sufficient stopping effect to ensure the destruction of enemy soldiers. That is why, during the initial period of these campaigns, many units sometimes took out suitable weapons in various ways and carried out their operations, armed with 7,62-mm machine guns and sniper rifles, and not 5,56-mm assault rifles.
One of the representatives of an industrial enterprise, closely associated with the NATO MTR, explained: “The error with 5,56 mm lies in the length of the barrel. In order to maintain the kinetic effect necessary to inflict bodily injury, the weapon must have a barrel at least 508 mm long. ” The M16A4 Colt assault rifle and the modernized SA80A3 Heckler & Koch rifle, which are in service with the American and British armies, respectively, currently have barrels of exactly this length.
Starting to use 5,56 mm weapons in combat operations in urban areas during the Gulf War in 1991 and subsequent operations, the US military realized that the shortened barrel version of the M16 carbine is still capable of delivering enough kinetic energy to a living target to kill it from the distance 300 meters. The Colt M4A1 carbine variant received a barrel with a length of 368 mm and entered service with the US military in 1994 year.
At distances greater than 300 meters, the 368-mm barrel did not have enough length to disperse the M5,56 855-mm bullet to the desired speed and is guaranteed to disable the target. As a result, there were very often reports from Afghanistan and from other theaters of war, when the soldiers, responding to insurgent fire, firing AK-47 machine guns from a distance of 600 meters, felt at the same time “insufficiently armed”.
This obvious inequality of opportunities requires certain changes in the future equipment of soldiers and special forces, and here many countries see the solution in promising weapons systems of various calibers and with barrels of different lengths. In order to fix this obvious problem, the US Navy and the Special Operations Command decided to concentrate on achieving the “knockdown effect”, which was made possible by refining the usual M855 bullet into an open-tip bullet that more likely tumbles inside the target than goes straight through her Such a bullet causes more serious injuries to the internal tissues, that is, it has an increased lethal force. The development of a bullet with an open tip led to the appearance of the 5,56-mm cartridge Mk.318 Mod.0 and the 7,62-mm cartridge Mk.319 Mod.0 with soft lead bullets, which entered service with the USMC 2010 year.
The Iraqi security forces soldier is undergoing combat training. Like his opponents from the Islamic state, he is armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, which has remained the favorite small arms of many rebel groups for several decades.
The 5,56 mm HK416 assault rifle from Heckler & Koch was adopted by NATO special forces along with the 7,62 mm version of the HK417. This 7,62mm rifle with increased lethality is used by snipers in close combat
In these new bullets, the lead core sits freely on the copper core, the edges of which unbend when they hit the target and release the lead core. Curved edges and the lead core itself cause catastrophic damage to the internal tissues of a person, passing through the tissue without deviations. According to one of the specialists in the ammunition industry: “This means that when hit into the windshield of a car, the lead core forms a hole, which with sufficient accuracy passes through the core that follows it. Such a bullet is just suitable for shooting the head of a suicide bomber driving a car with explosives. This type of bullet is known under the designation OTMRP (Open-Tipped Match Rear Penetrator - open tip, high-precision, with a rear core) or "bullet that does not notice obstacles". "
Recent developments in the field of small arms ammunition include the Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) cartridge and the Orbital ATK Special Operations Science and Technology (SOST) 5,56 cartridge. They were developed jointly with the Research Center for Arms of Naval Surface Weapon Systems in Dahlgren, after which they began to be delivered to the US Navy special forces. 5,56-mm SOST with a smaller muzzle flame was created to improve accuracy and improved penetration of obstacles. Deliveries under the contract worth 5,56 million dollars must be completed this year. Also available 49-mm version of this cartridge.
Discussing a similar experience gained in operations in Afghanistan in recent years, the head of weapons programs in the New Zealand defense forces, Phil Collet, said that conventional infantry units clearly felt the superiority of the Taliban AK-7,62 X-guns. Army units were armed with the Steyr Mannlicher GmbH F47 Austeyr assault rifle, firing standard 88-mm cartridges; thus, the face was a great illustration of the debate on caliber. However, he clarified that there are advantages when working with 5,56-mm ammunition, especially when conducting urban operations. "In densely populated areas, you should always think about the civilian population ... At least with the 5,56-mm cartridge you know that it will not pass through the target, unlike other larger calibers."
The military, along with industry, is also making great efforts to develop 6,5-mm ammunition for assault rifles. For example, PNW Ammunition, in conjunction with the Research Center for Surface Naval Weapon Systems, is developing a cartridge with optimal characteristics that will replace the 5,56-mm cartridge. As a substitute, other cartridges are also being actively promoted, for example .260 Remington and 6.5 Grendel. The latter is an optimal compromise on the combination of ballistic qualities, striking effects, recoil momentum and dimensions and mass of ammunition, occupying a niche between the NATO 7.62x51 NATO and NATO 5.56x45 cartridges.
Based on the extensive practice of using the 6,5 mm caliber in civilian long-distance shooting competitions, it was recognized that the ballistic coefficient (an indicator of an object’s ability to overcome aerodynamic drag in flight) is significantly higher than that of 5,56-mm or 7,62-mm ammunition. The ammunition specialist continued further: “It passes through the air more smoothly and, therefore, better keeps its trajectory. In addition, it is not so slow in the air and with its heavier bullet (120 grams compared to 62 grams for 5,56-mm bullets) retains kinetic energy at much greater distances compared to bullets of 5,56 mm and 7,62 mm. This means that AK-47 will no longer be able to surpass it at a distance of more than 300 meters. ”
In fact, the US military wants to get a more accurate cartridge that is able to deliver more kinetic energy from shorter stems and, apparently, the 6,5 mm cartridge represents a real proposal with an additional bonus in the form of a polymer sleeve, which allows you to reduce weight by 34 percent compared to conventional cartridges. In addition, a soldier will be able to load 25-mm cartridges into the 6,5 magazine compared to 30 5,56-mm cartridges and 20 7,62-mm cartridges. “The probability of hitting and the likelihood of injuries increases so much that for sniper rifles, assault rifles and machine guns the overall probability of hitting the target increases significantly. From this moment you begin to change the rules of the game. "
In August 2015, a demonstration was conducted by the British Ministry of Defense. Specialists at the same time say that the best solution is to combine a barrel with a length of 406 mm and an 6,5 mm bullet with an expansive tip, which is capable of piercing mud walls (similar to those found everywhere in Afghanistan) and the water column in 600 mm. According to experts, the caliber 6,5 mm is able to inflict more damage to the target, in addition, it has a sufficient stopping effect even after overcoming an obstacle. “The damage inflicted on the object by the 6,5-mm-7-mm bullet eliminates all the disadvantages associated with the transition from the 5,56 mm caliber to the 6,5 mm caliber, while also the 6,5-mm-7-mm caliber due to the mass, jet impulse and combat charge It has the greatest impact on the final trajectory compared to 5,56-mm and 7,62-mm ammunition. An intermediate cartridge (type of cartridge for firearms, intermediate in power between rifle and pistol cartridge) with characteristics similar to those of the 6.5 Grendel cartridge is considered as a candidate. In addition, the possibility of using lightweight polymer sleeves for an intermediate-caliber cartridge, which can later replace 5.56x45 mm and 7.62x51 mm cartridges, is being explored. ”
However, any revolutionary transitions from the 5,56 mm to the “optimal caliber” will require significant costs and a lot of logistic work and most likely will require the leadership of the US Department of Defense, which will help organize work among other NATO members. Whether members of the alliance have a similar desire for change, especially in light of current financial constraints, remains to be seen, but there is certainly an interest in this topic.
Until then, the design of the assault rifle most likely will not change, although there is information about the development, with the participation of the British Laboratory of Defense Science and Technology, of a demonstration rifle, which should confirm the concept of 6,5-mm ammunition. There is no more information on this issue, although experts say that the transition from the 5,56 mm caliber to the 6,5 mm caliber will not be so difficult, you just need to replace the barrel and the upper part of the receiver.
The NATO MTR and the Afghan National Security Forces perform the same tasks, while their equipment is significantly different in everything, from small arms to helmets, instruments, communications and uniforms
In the meantime, NATO forces continue to make the most of 5,56mm assault rifles from the best manufacturers, including Heckler & Koch, whose HK416 (5,56mm) and HK417 (7,62mm) remain the first order MTR weapons of choice. , including the first special forces group of the American army "Delta", which has been in service with these systems for several years. Other NATO and First Order MTR countries use the same or similar weapons, including the C7 Colt Canada assault rifle family and variants of the M4 Colt carbine with different barrel lengths (for different types of combat operations). But experts warn that at the global level (with the exception of the United States), there remains a serious lack of doctrinal support regarding which path the rest of the first-order MTRs should take regarding their future weapons. Then they reason: “The world is just following the US model. Britain, Canada, and other countries simply cannot afford to adapt the same tactics as the United States, because the wars in which we will participate and the methods we will fight in them will require a different impact. Are we fighting an enemy with good protection and, therefore, we need good armor penetration (increased probability of bullets to pass through the target with less damage) or are we fighting unprotected Taliban fighters who just need to be killed by the kinetic impulse of the bullet? "
Given the fact that in the next ten years, many programs should be launched to replace assault rifles, such considerations undoubtedly have a great influence on their further development. Any change of caliber entails many problems, including organizational and logistical, but saving the life of a dismounted soldier is paramount. Meanwhile, the world continues to follow the program of the US Army on the service modular pistol MHS (Modular Handgun System), the draft requirement for which was published on June 17. Under this program, several alternative calibers are considered for a Beretta M9 pistol of 9 mm caliber in service.
The US Department of Defense recently stated that they did not deny the possibility of developing special ammunition for a new pistol, as is already happening with ammunition for 5,56-mm rifles. As expected, the overall need will make 500000 pistols, not only for the army, but also for the US Air Force and Navy, including 7000 compact options for special tasks. The final request for proposals is expected in 2016 year, and the issuance of the contract is scheduled for 2017 year.
Many renowned small arms specialists are showing interest in this program, including Glock, Sig Sauer, Beretta, Smith & Wesson and others. Heckler & Koch, for example, wants to offer their P30 pistol in two versions, chambered for 9mm and .40; this pistol has a short bolt carrier and a barrel without external safety. If the US Army wants to opt for a larger .45 weapon, the company will be able to offer its own HK45 pistol in this case, which has interchangeable butt plates of various shapes and sizes. Another interested company, FN Herstal, can offer their FNX-45 pistol, available in several versions, chambered in 9mm, .40, .45 and .57 cartridges. The FNX-45 pistol is built on the principle of using recoil energy with a short barrel stroke.
An expansive 6,5 caliber cartridge mm is offered as a solution with more lethal force. It guarantees the destruction of targets from the first shot, which is not the case with 5,56 mm ammunition, which is criticized for the lack of stopping power.