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The New Lightweight Bullet That Saves Fatigue ... And Fuel

daftandbarmy

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I used to carry 100lbs of heavy ammunition, now I have to carry 100lbs of 'light' ammunition :)


The New Lightweight Bullet That Saves Fatigue ... And Fuel

The smallest of weight-saving presents "plentiful" benefits for defence, so says BAE Systems.

The weight of carrying ammunition can be a burdensome task.

Just ask the guy carrying belts of 7.62 mm around his neck. Or the boffins who have to calculate the fuel costs of getting a division's worth of 5.56 mm to warzones like Iraq or Afghanistan.

All that brass and all those pellets come in incredibly heavy. That has all sorts of consequences ranging from transportation costs, the ease of distributing it to those who need it, and of course, the infrastructure required for stowage.

So perhaps it is no surprise then that munitions suippliers and the Ministry of Defence alike have a genuine business interest in reducing the weight of ammunition.

And that starts with the individual round.

Two bullets. Placed side-by-side it is hard to see any significant differences.

One of them, the standard 5.56 mm round, used by the British Army on range days and operations, weighs in at 12.7 grams. But the other, BAE System's new prototype lightweight round, weighs just 10.9 grams. A weight loss of 1.8 grams.

Although it is only the equivalent of a single playing card, and while you might be forgiven for thinking, why all the fuss, the benefits to such a saving soon becomes clear.

In discussing this, BAE Systems said those benefits are "plentiful," adding:

"Any reduction in equipment weight, often referred to as 'dismounted infantry load', makes mobility easier and allows greater tactical flexibility."

While there are many pieces of equipment that add to the overall load on a soldier, one common denominator across the services is ammunition. The cartridge case makes up most of the round. It is, therefore, the most logical area for munition experts like BAE Systems to aim their weight reduction efforts towards.


The New Lightweight Bullet That Saves Fatigue ... And Fuel
 

FJAG

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I used to carry 100lbs of heavy ammunition, now I have to carry 100lbs of 'light' ammunition :)
No need to worry. I see the kids going back and forth to school carrying backpacks the size of bergens filled with the gods only know what. Looks like their carrying fifty pounds each on eight-year-old backs. Were either going to have the strongest kids in the world or the ones with the worst musculoskeletal injuries.

:unsure:
 

Colin Parkinson

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I went through my daughters backpack, amongst the things she did need were textbooks from previous courses she had finished, dead pens, dirty mismatched socks, enough makeup to colour an army, a bunch of old snacks, dead batteries and a some very old muffins she didn't want to eat, but felt guilty throwing away. She was amazed at how light it was afterwards.
 

KevinB

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Yawn - CaseTelescope Ammunition (CTA) saves 30% weight - CaseLess Ammunition (CL or CLA) saves 42%.
Textron submission for the US Army's Next Gen: Assault Rifle (NGAR) and Squad Weapon (NGSW)
The US Army experiment with Hybrid Brass/Polymer Casings is saving around 15% a tad more than the British "revolutionary" design.
With SIG going that route for their Next Gen Submissions, as well as some regular 5.56mm and 7.62mm being tested

I really don't get interesting in ammo weight savings unless it is .300NM or .338LM belts... (cause that stuff sucks to carry).
 

OldSolduer

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There was a move in the 80s towards careless ammo. I briefed the CI of CFRS on it. I’m not sure why it was not adopted. I’m guessing the reliability wasn’t the best.
 

Colin Parkinson

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From what I have seen, mud, physical abrasion and sitting in a hot chamber have all done in neat ideas in regards to non-metallic cased ammo.
 

Ostrozac

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There was a move in the 80s towards careless ammo. I briefed the CI of CFRS on it. I’m not sure why it was not adopted. I’m guessing the reliability wasn’t the best.
As I understand, the issue was that the caseless ammo being trialed by NATO (4.73x33mm) was light, but kind of flimsy, so needed to be held in fairly robust magazines, so the actual weight savings between 4.73mm and 5.56mm ammo loads wasn’t particularly impressive. As opposed to the transition between 7.62mm NATO (in steel mags) and 5.56mm NATO (in aluminum and plastic mags), which was quite dramatic.
 

Eaglelord17

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No need to worry. I see the kids going back and forth to school carrying backpacks the size of bergens filled with the gods only know what. Looks like their carrying fifty pounds each on eight-year-old backs. Were either going to have the strongest kids in the world or the ones with the worst musculoskeletal injuries.

:unsure:
I wouldn't worry, that's about all the exercise they are going to get based off the teenagers who can't even pass the Force Test today...
 

Good2Golf

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So for a line soldier with 300rds of 5.56, the savings is just over 500g, or about the weight of a small ‘food baby’ that one could deposit at the latrine before crossing the LD? 🤔
 

dimsum

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There was a move in the 80s towards careless ammo.
I hope that went the way of "careless whisper".


So for a line soldier with 300rds of 5.56, the savings is just over 500g, or about the weight of a small ‘food baby’ that one could deposit at the latrine before crossing the LD? 🤔
You're assuming anyone can deposit anything after eating a week's worth of IMPs.
 

daftandbarmy

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So for a line soldier with 300rds of 5.56, the savings is just over 500g, or about the weight of a small ‘food baby’ that one could deposit at the latrine before crossing the LD? 🤔

Any soldier who has to carry 300 rds of 5.56mm should be able to have his CoC shot for logistics incompetence :)
 

Ostrozac

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Any soldier who has to carry 300 rds of 5.56mm should be able to have his CoC shot for logistics incompetence :)
In Bosnia I carried 460 rounds of 5.56mm — one beltbox on the weapon, one in the vest, and two magazines on the vest (one loaded normally, one all tracer). This was pretty normal for C9 gunners of that era on what was a very low intensity operation. I’m not sure what the current doctrinal load is for rifleman or C9 gunners in high intensity combat — but 300 rounds seems low. I seem to remember the first line, according to the pam, being around 450 for riflemen, 600 for C9, but that’s from (failing) memory.

Also note that 10 C7 magazines/300 rounds of 5.56mm weighs about 4.5kg. That will only get you about 7 FNC1 magazines/140 rounds of 7.62mm NATO. The weight savings was dramatic.
 

dimsum

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Any soldier who has to carry 300 rds of 5.56mm should be able to have his CoC shot for logistics incompetence :)
What was the "typical" combat load for someone OTW in Afghanistan? I thought 10-15 mags was normal?
 

dangerboy

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What was the "typical" combat load for someone OTW in Afghanistan? I thought 10-15 mags was normal?
I carried 6 mags in my chest rig with 1 on the C7 and I think another 3 I had in my patrol pack.
 

KevinB

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There was a move in the 80s towards careless ammo. I briefed the CI of CFRS on it. I’m not sure why it was not adopted. I’m guessing the reliability wasn’t the best.
From what I have seen, mud, physical abrasion and sitting in a hot chamber have all done in neat ideas in regards to non-metallic cased ammo.
As I understand, the issue was that the caseless ammo being trialed by NATO (4.73x33mm) was light, but kind of flimsy, so needed to be held in fairly robust magazines, so the actual weight savings between 4.73mm and 5.56mm ammo loads wasn’t particularly impressive. As opposed to the transition between 7.62mm NATO (in steel mags) and 5.56mm NATO (in aluminum and plastic mags), which was quite dramatic.

The G11 was part of the CF Weapons of the 80's (SARP) Trial.
It was also tested by the US Army, the Germans (HK hometown advantage).

The early variants had a lot of issues -- in the CF trial a magazine deflagrenated (spelling) - basically combusted in a pocket, and the Solider was injured.

Later versions of the ammo had much better reliability and robustness - the G11 K2 would most likely have been adopted by the Bundeswehr if not for German re-unifaction and the need to find a cheaper general issue rifle (enter the G36).

One of the major issue with the G11 K2 was the clearing method from the 90degree throw bolt and failure to clear properly put a hole in a control room at Aberdeen Proving Ground (behind the glass that separates the "lab" from the ranges).
It made the US Army very skeptical on CL and CTA due to the different manner that most chamber ammunition, and one cannot visibly or physically check the chamber on many of those designs.

Very few G11's still exist - the US Army has at least 2 left. The G11 also required a Swiss watch repairman to be on hand for any armorer work - the mechanism is beyond confusing - I disassembled one once and it took three of us to re-assemble over a few days with all the manuals...

What was the "typical" combat load for someone OTW in Afghanistan? I thought 10-15 mags was normal?
I carried 21+1 at a max - and 4+1 at a min.
*I was heavily ridiculed by a buddy who was a CAG SGM about "aim more, shoot less".
 

KevinB

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Easier said than done during the heat of battle, I'm sure!
Yes - but when I looked at a lot of ammo expenditure there was a lot of "mad minute" firing going on of very questionable effectiveness - and forcing oneself to actually truly locate the enemy and get a sight picture was remarkably more effective.
The other aspect I noted later one was depending on the experience of ones opponent the "suppressive fire" was of varying degrees of effectiveness -- an experienced enemy would maneuver regardless of "suppressive fire" - and thus aimed accurate fire in less than open terrain is much more effective.

I spoke to a lot of folks about this in both the US and CF - and nearly all the fairly experienced leaders (at Squad/Section to Coy) level agreed that with newer troops a great deal of ammunition was expended if often just to make troops feel better at the start of a TIC - and at some levels it was never "trained out" so it became near epidemic.

An SAS SSM had made a similar remark to me that firing without a target might make you feel good for a bit, but wasn't helping at all.

I believe ammunition carriage should be enemy oriented - and if your not facing a slew of enemy - there is little reason for a massive load out on the body - but if you are facing waves of screaming red Chinese or throngs of angry Somalias etc - then you can't carry enough...
 

daftandbarmy

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I believe ammunition carriage should be enemy oriented - and if your not facing a slew of enemy - there is little reason for a massive load out on the body - but if you are facing waves of screaming red Chinese or throngs of angry Somalias etc - then you can't carry enough...

And good drills in the section and platoon to redistribute ammo as required, which is the job of the 2ICs of course.

A few riflemen might run short, but a whole platoon is unlikely to run out.
 

CBH99

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Yes - but when I looked at a lot of ammo expenditure there was a lot of "mad minute" firing going on of very questionable effectiveness - and forcing oneself to actually truly locate the enemy and get a sight picture was remarkably more effective.
The other aspect I noted later one was depending on the experience of ones opponent the "suppressive fire" was of varying degrees of effectiveness -- an experienced enemy would maneuver regardless of "suppressive fire" - and thus aimed accurate fire in less than open terrain is much more effective.

I spoke to a lot of folks about this in both the US and CF - and nearly all the fairly experienced leaders (at Squad/Section to Coy) level agreed that with newer troops a great deal of ammunition was expended if often just to make troops feel better at the start of a TIC - and at some levels it was never "trained out" so it became near epidemic.

An SAS SSM had made a similar remark to me that firing without a target might make you feel good for a bit, but wasn't helping at all.

I believe ammunition carriage should be enemy oriented - and if your not facing a slew of enemy - there is little reason for a massive load out on the body - but if you are facing waves of screaming red Chinese or throngs of angry Somalias etc - then you can't carry enough...
When we went on patrol in the sandbox, it was typical to have around 10 mags or more on us with a basic C7 load out.

That would change obviously if you were the 203 gunner, but 10 mags was the norm.
 
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