Tactical Tailor

US Air Force Small Arms Update – 2019

At this week’s NDIA Armaments Meeting, Air Force Security Force Center’s Col Enrico Vendetti provided an update on USAF small arms. Up front, he iterated that the Air Force tends to leverage other service weapon programs. This is partly due to the fact that the Air Force’s requirement for arming is at about 50,000 personnel. The vast majority are Security Forces, but there are also Office of Special Investigations Agents and Battlefield Airmen in the mix. Consequently, much of the Security Forces Center’s effort is focused on the Reconstitute Defenders Initiative.

While much of that initiative is focused on the individual, there is also near-term acquisition of the M18 version of the Modular Handgun System, M320A1 40mm Grenade Launcher, GAU-5 5.56mm Aircrew Self Defense Weapon and CROWS/containerized weapons for Airfield Defense.

In the future, the Air Force is looking at M4A1 Improved Modular Rifle (discussed last year), acquisition of the M110A1 Compact Semi Auto Sniper System in 7.62mm, additional precision weapons such as USSOCOM’s Advanced Sniper Rifle, and Fire Control Systems. There is also OSI interest in a new sub gun like the Army’s new Sub Compact Weapon.

Interestingly, they are now focusing in on the SIG SAUER TANGO6 1-6 variable power optic selected by the Army and SOCOM for the AF M4A1 IMR.

25 Responses to “US Air Force Small Arms Update – 2019”

  1. EODMadBomb says:

    I’m going to have to get some of that, “Restorative Sleep”.

  2. Stefan S. says:

    First Pic…. “Lethal and Ready caption”.. Now that is funny!

  3. Ed says:

    “GAU-5 5.56mm Aircrew Self Defense Weapon”, WTH? The AF still has CAR-15’s in service?

  4. Jordan says:

    I’m glad that the Air Force is stepping in the right direction of introducing new weapon systems for Security Forces and to have stand off weapon capability to further secure airfields from attack.

    There are a couple of discrepancies in this initiative. The application of the stand off weapon containers, Sig variable power optic adoption and end user feedback before adopting such options.

    The stand off weapon containers must be augmented by weapon systems that can be utilized by an individual Airmen throughout the airfield rather than depend only in a container that is hard to move throughout the airfield. Also there should be a mix of Anti-Armor/Anti-Air assets to be included in the package.

    My other disagreement is the Sig optic. By far, there are far better options out there than the Sig optic. An example would be the Nightforce 1-8 ATACR which provides the shooter the capability to shoot at far extended ranges and compensate for wind. There should be an extended look at other options before adopting a piece of equipment for the entire organization.

    Finally in order to have an effective implementation of the said equipment, end user feedback must be obtained throughout the Total Force not just CATM but the individual Airmen – NCO’s.

    To sum up my reply, I am happy Security Forces is adopting new systems to replace old equipment that had to be replaced.

    Container weapon systems must be augmented with flexible individual weapon systems with Anti-Armor/Anti-Air assets. Careful consideration of all optics throughout the vast optic industry must be looked at and then the involvement of end users to have a satisfactory end result in this initiative.

    • SSD says:

      Yes, they’ve got other weapons.

      The Air Force looked at optics and apparently, like the Army and Air Force made a decision.

      • TheScrutineer says:

        No doubt, Sig has struck again with its super low-ball contract bid tactics. It’s almost like O-light wriggled into DoD contracting… This stuff is mediocre at best.

        • 4077 Something says:

          Mediocre at best? Have YOU ever used one yourself or is your negativity just some SIG bashing? I’ve used a TANGO 6 myself and I know a few people who’ve ABUSED them. It’s a great optic and can handle pretty much whatever you can throw them at.

      • Ton E says:

        Wrong SSD! Forget the fact that both Big Army and USSOCOM both went with the SIG optic. Every account I’ve heard on the optics so far have been positive.

      • 4077 Something says:

        Yes, they made a very smart decision. Along with USSOCOM and the Army.

    • Chuck Covington says:

      I’ve got a couple of very close relatives who are in the military and one of whom is involved in the testing/procurement process. The TANGO6 met all the requirements that Army and USSOCOM demanded of the optic. They looked at numerous submissions (Off hand I don’t know if Nightforce submitted a scope or not) and the TANGO6 exceeded their requirements. The ATACR is a very good optic but there was no need for that type of distance capabilities for the applicable weapons system.

      • Ton E says:

        BOOM people are acting as if the Tango 6 has been on the market long. Most of those who make claims its crap probably have no direct experience with them. Meanwhile Big Army and USSOCOM is probably 2 among a handful of organizations that has the knowledge and experience to test out these items to assure it meets their requirements.

        • Bill Brandon says:

          I’m a 3 gun guy and I recently had the opportunity to use a friend’s TANGO 6 in competition. This is one AMAZING optic! It’s rock solid and you aren’t afraid to get rough with it. I’ve used some other name brand optics that were good but I wasn’t too sure how far I wanted to go with them. Not so with the Tango 6.

          The image is bright and sharp with no clouding at the edges. This scope was SFP (like the mil version) not FFP as I prefer but that didn’t throw me off at all. Zero was repeatable and the turrets were very positive.

          OK, I get it, 3 gun isn’t combat but this scope can be pushed pretty hard if the user feels like it. You don’t have to worry that you spent your hard earned cash on an expensive scope and you think you have to baby it. If you don’t mind scratching your tools then this scope will take what you can throw at it.

          I could keep rambling on about the TANGO 6 but I’ll just leave it here.

  5. Andrew says:


  6. Ton E says:

    I can see where the SIG optic can come in for our ADMs especially when we start fielding M110A1’s as far as the M4A1 Improved Modular Rifle just give us URG-I’s for our M4s and call it good.

  7. DangerMouse says:

    Dear SSD. I love your website. I really do. It’s one of the best on the internet.

    But I should not have to right-click on an image and select “open image in new tab” to be able to read a slide.

    Sincerely, your fan

  8. 4077 Something says:

    I’m glad to see the Air Force following the lead of Big Green and USSOCOM. The TANGO6 is a solid optic and perfect for short to intermediate ranges.

    The M4A1 has an effective range out to about 500 meters. Will the average soldier/airman be taking precision aimed shots out to that distance? Probably not but should the need arise the TANGO6 will give him an advantage, even out that far.

    • Ton E says:

      I can say being in Security Forces for about 12 years now unless you’re an ADM you aren’t going to shoot out to that distance. For our regular M4 qualifications we simulate shooting out to 300 meters which is just a smaller man shaped target placed 25 to 50 meters away I only shoot out to 300 meters and beyond with my personal AR’s on my own time never did it with the AF lol.