Back in 2012, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems unveiled their belt-fed Lightweight Medium Machine Gun, in .338 Norma Magnum. I saw the weapon, but didn’t take it too seriously, because at the time, there was no money in DoD for new starts. I remember being asked by a friend what a .338 machine gun could be used for and I replied, “shooting $10 bills.” It just seemed like the timing wasn’t right. Now however, its prospects are looking better than ever.
A few things have happened since 2012. First off, the development of Polymer cased ammo has progressed to the point that it is now viable. Second, there’s now money available for an initiative like this. What’s more, we’ve got a Chief of Staff of the Army who wants to retool the Army for the next war. The LWMMG offers an overmatch capability that promises to change how the Infantry fights.
Developed via internal R&D Dollars, GD identified a capability gap between the M240 and M2 machine guns. They set about to create a machine gun which would offer similar handling characteristics as the M240, yet rival the reach of the venerable M2. Combining the .338 Norma Magnum cartridge and their “Short Recoil Impulse Averaging” recoil mitigation system, the LWMMG can engage targets out to 1700m (some GD literature offers 1900m) with a 300gr Sierra HPBT, FMJ, or AP projectile. That round offers 5 times the energy of a 7.62 projectile at 1000m.
While GD chose the .338NM over the .338 Lapua Magnum due to its less tapered case for use in belts, and the promise of longer barrel life, the LWMMG can be converted to use the .338LM cartridge.
At the 1700m range, the performance of the M2’s .50 round limits it to use as an area weapon, while the .338NM has been demonstrated to hit point targets at that range. This more than adequately overmatches the Russian PKM which has been a concern for anyone who has found themselves at its receiving end.
The weapon weighs 22 lbs which places it well within the 240 weight class of 27 lbs and rivals the new M240L. The LWMMG also features a quick change barrel with fixed headspace and timing as well as integrated MIL-STD-1913 rails. Additionally, there is a collapsible stock and GD has been offering the weapon with a 6x optic.
This 2012 chart depicts the weights of the M240, LWMMG and M2 and is based on conventional, brass cased rounds for the LWMMG. In addition to weapon upgrades, Poly case technology is going to further lighten that load, or better yet, increase the amount of ammunition a machine gunner can carry.
Finally, GD has also successfully demonstrated the LWMMG with a suppressor.
Conceptually, the Army is interested in something along these lines, but out in the nebulous world of the future. The thing is, the stars are aligning now.
Now is the time for one of the services or USSOCOM to write a requirement for this capability. Let’s see what industry can do to offer the US Warfighter a capability unparalleled anywhere else. Take that, PKM!
All photos from General Dynamics.
Tags: General Dynamics