Task and Purpose, Jared Keller
Dead before it even started.
The U.S. Army’s Powerful New 7.62mm Service Rifle Is Officially Dead
The Army has officially canceled its search for an off-the-shelf 7.62mm Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) meant to replace the standard-issue M4 carbine — a major setback in the branch’s search for a new infantry rifle to augment soldier lethality.
Army Contracting Command announced the cancellation of the ICSR program on Nov. 28, citing a “reprioritization” of funding for the commercially made service rifle to the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) as a replacement for both the M4 and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and “a long-term solution to meet the identified capability gap instead of the ICSR, which was an interim solution.” The announcement did not disclose the scope of the funds involved, and PEO Soldier and U.S. Army Contracting Command did not immediately respond to inquiries from Task & Purpose.
The saga of the ICSR has been a turbulent one. In May, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers that the current 5.56 mm rounds chambered in the M4 and M16 assault rifles ubiquitous among infantry troops (namely the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round) cannot penetrate modern enemy body armor; the same month, he told Senate Armed Services Committee members that Maneuver Center of Excellence officials at Fort Benning, Georgia, had engineered a new 7.62mm round capable of defeating plates similar to U.S. military-issue Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts.
Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn translated Milley’s testimony into a directed requirement for a new 7.62 mm rifle. Shortly after his appearance before SASC, the Army issued a request for information to “identify sources for a combat rifle system” that could deliver up to 50,000 weapons over a truncated timeline; in August, the branch issued a formal solicitation with a simple objective: “to acquire and field a 7.62mm ICSR that will increase soldier lethality.”
On paper, the ICSR looked like a sweet little rifle upgrade. The Army’s original RFI detailed needs for a rifle platform with either a 16 or 20-inch barrel with collapsible buttstock, a 20 to 30-round magazine in support of the standard 210 loadout, noise and flash suppression, compatibility with the Family of Weapons Sights-Individual system that connects rifle sites to a soldier’s night-vision goggle, a standard Picatinny rail system for optics, and other…