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Why The Army Is Investing In New Ammo, Rather Than New Guns

Charlie Gao

Key point: The primary problem that is preventing widespread adoption of CTSAS small-arms technology is one of systemic inertia.

Recently, much attention has been focused on the state of the U.S. military’s arsenal of small arms. After the announcement and subsequent cancellation of the U.S. Army’s 7.62 Interim Combat Service Rifle project, many were left wondering what the U.S. Army’s actual plan was for a future service rifle. One possible answer was demonstrated at the AUSA 2017 by Textron: the use of Cased Telescoped Ammunition (CTA) technology in small arms.

Unlike the use of CTA in vehicular autocannons, CTA in small arms is a rather recent development. While some early cartridge designs could technically be considered CTA (one example is the 7.62×38mmR ammunition used in the Russian M1895 revolver), these early designs did not have many benefits that modern CTA technology provides. During the Cold War, small-arms development mostly focused on caseless ammunition. This lead eventually to the H&K G11, a rifle that used caseless telescoped ammunition. The G11 participated in the U.S. Army’s Advanced Combat Rifle program and was accepted into service in the Bundeswehr. However, the G11 fell victim to budget cuts following the reunification of Germany, and not many military attempts to pursue caseless ammunition have happened since.

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