The Army is in the midst of developing a new, lighter version of its iconic .50 caliber machine gun, which promises to be even deadlier than the original.
The M2 machine gun, commonly known among U.S. troops as the “Ma deuce,” is world-renowned for its remarkable firepower. And an updated version of the M2, fitted with lighter titanium parts, promises to improve upon the already impressive piece of weaponry. Once completed, the new M2 will be between 20 and 30 percent lighter than its original, making it much easier to transport and operate.
“We always want to lighten the soldier load. A major requirement is to engineer a 60-pound weapon compared to an 86-pound weapon,” Laura Battista, the Product Management Engineer for Picatinny Arsenal, told Scout Warrior, a military news website. “We will procure 30 and then go into full blown testing – air drop, full reliability, durability, maintainability and government standard testing. We’ll see how it did compared to the M2 and we will try to go to turn it into a program of record.”
The M2’s service history goes back before World War II. It was initially designed by the famous firearm designer John Browning in 1918, who chambered the weapon in the smaller .30-06 cartridge. The larger .50 caliber version was developed in 1933 based on Browning’s original model. Since then, the M2 has been featured on everything from tripods to bomber aircraft. The M2 can spit out 450 to 600 rounds per minute at a range of up to 2,700 yards
“When enemies hear the sound of the gun, they tend to run in the other direction,” said Battista.
You can see the M2 in action in the video below.
The lighter M2 will be much easier for troops to handle in combat, Keith Muehling, Assistant Product Manager Crew Served Weapons, told Scout Warrior.
“If you are a top gunner and you are having to move this weapon around – it is on a pedestal tripod. If it is lighter, you are going to be able to traverse the weapon a little bit easier than a 20-pound heavier weapon. That is one of the added benefits as far as getting it on and off the vehicle. If a soldier can do that by himself that is an added benefit,” said Muehling.
The new, lighter M2 prototype will be released sometime this summer in response to the military’s expected request for proposal. A formal contract is expected sometime toward the end of the year.
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