“Marine infantry squads will replace their [belt-fed] M249 light machine gun with a highly accurate, auto rifle geared for fast-moving assaults,” military.com reports. “In late May, Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, approved a plan to field the [magazine-fed H&K] M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle to all Marine infantry battalions.” Which raises the question: are the Marines moving beyond the concept of suppressing fire (i.e. laying down a large amount of lead to pin down the enemy for mortar fire or, come to think of it, the XM-25 computer controlled grenade thingie)? Sounds like a strategic sea change to me . . .
Program officials acknowledge that a [M27] 30-round magazine cannot produce the high volume of fire the M249 is capable of when loaded with a 200-round belt.
And because gunners cannot change out over-heating barrels on the M27, they will likely keep sustained rates of fire at nearly 40 rounds per minute for 600 rounds on days with mild temperatures. They will have to reduce that to 28 rounds when the temps climb past 100 degrees.
But accuracy seems to be the key to the M27’s effectiveness, Clark said. The auto rifle is already showing signs that it could to be twice as accurate as the Marine M16A4.
Gunners shooting the M27 have been getting first-round hits on targets beyond 300 meters much more consistently than they have in the past with the M249, Clark said.
“In the training, the Marines were employing it in the semi-auto mode until they closed within 100 meters or so of the enemy and then switch to full auto to provide very accurate high rates of fire,” he added. “We don’t lose the ability to gain fire superiority.”
“Fire superiority”? If we’re going down this road, away from a hail of lead towards long-distance love, why not deploy something in a larger caliber?