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Yesterday, we reported the Army’s field tests of new equipment sourced from the private sector. Today, we catch wind of an Army jounro junket to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland to show-off their new and improved weapons systems. Thanks to TTAG contributor and ex-Army man Martin Albright’s comments on the previous post, and the evidence presented in Wired’s Danger Room, I’m beginning to come ’round (so to speak) to the idea that the U.S. may still be slow when it comes to weapons procurement, but they ain’t stupid. Or apathetic. The bad boy above, for example, is your basic artillery piece with big ass green laser.

Maj. Michael Pottratz, who made that trip to Afghanistan to issue the new kit, told Danger Room the system had been installed on variants of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle. The idea is to prevent incidents like the recent deadly bus shooting in Kandahar, where coalition forces failed to warn off an approaching vehicle with a flashlight and flares, and then engaged the bus with gunfire, killing several civilians.

Pottratz, who said he had tested the dazzler on himself, said the effect of the green laser was “exactly like looking at a very bright light, like a welding torch or the sun, for just a fraction of a second.”

But wait! There’s more! New night visions goggles! They generate an “image-intensification image that amplifies ambient light and overlays it with an infrared image. It expands the viewing capability to all light conditions.” NOW how much would you pay? Don’t answer (you might faint)!

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The Army also showcased improvements to some old standbys, like the M2 .50-caliber machine gun. The Ma Deuce has been in service since 1933. The Army has introduced a quick-change barrel, which allows the crew to swap out the barrel quickly without having to go through the time-consuming but essential drill of checking headspace and timing (.pdf).

In this video clip, operators on the left are swapping out the barrel on a legacy M2, using gauges to ensure that the new barrel is properly installed. In heavy combat, that exercise could cost several crucial minutes.

The barrel on the upgraded M2, shown here on the right, is swapped out in a matter of seconds. The operator — shown here — rapidly fires off a burst while the team on the left is still working.

There’s also a new Modular Accessory Shotgun system: an under-barrel shotgun attachment for rifles for blowing the shit out of the doorknobs or, you know, what shotguns do.

It’s unclear how much of this fancy kit will make it to the front lines, and how fast that may occur. Still, as Martin pointed out, it’s clear that the Army is trying to evolve its weapons and weapons systems as quickly a possible. That’s a good thing.

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