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27 Apr 17. Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE: LMT) modernized Tactical Missile System (TACMS) missile completed its fifth consecutive successful flight in a test at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The TACMS missile used in this test, launched from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher, was cold-conditioned, and flew approximately 85 kilometers to the target. The test further confirmed that the missile functions as designed and meets the contract and performance requirements of the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) program. “The continued success of the modernized TACMS flight test program validates production readiness,” said Scott Greene, vice president of Precision Fires & Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Our team is singularly focused on performing for our customer, the U.S. Army, because we know we cannot let them down on the battlefield.” The missile used in the test was produced at Lockheed Martin’s Precision Fires Production Center of Excellence in Camden, Arkansas. As part of the U.S. Army’s TACMS Service Life Extension Program, the modernized missile includes new state-of-the-art guidance electronics and added capability to defeat area targets without leaving behind unexploded ordnance. The TACMS modernization process disassembles and demilitarizes TACMS Block 1 and 1A submunition warheads, replacing them with new unitary warheads and bringing them into compliance with Department of Defense policy on cluster munitions and unintended harm to civilians. The modernization process also resets the missile’s 10+ year shelf life. The TACMS platform provides maximum flexibility to quickly integrate new payloads and capabilities to meet current and future demands. With unsurpassed performance and a longstanding record of production excellence, TACMS is the only long-range tactical surface-to-surface missile ever employed by the U.S. Army in combat. TACMS missiles can be fired from the entire family of Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) launchers.
28 Apr 17. Improved .50-caliber machine gun hits fleet. Marine units have received an upgraded .50-caliber machine gun that aims to make firing quicker, safer and less visible to the enemy.
Marine Corps Systems Command officials in Quantico, Virginia, released information Thursday about the upgrades, which include a quick-change barrel, fixed headspace and timing, and a flash hider that reduces the machine gun’s signature by 95 percent at night.
“The improved M2A1 makes Marines more lethal because they’re able to get rounds down range quicker,” said Maj. Harry Thompson, team lead for General Purpose Weapons at the command.
The current machine gun requires Marines to manually set headspace and timing before firing and after the barrel heats from high fire volumes.
Headspace is the distance between the face of the bolt and the base of the cartridge when chambered, while timing is the adjustment of the weapon so firing occurs when the recoiling parts are in the correct position. The quick-change barrel is now possible because the headspace and timing are now fixed, Thompson said. The current version requires Marines to screw in the barrel and set the headspace, he said. Now the improved version allows Marines to “pop” the receiver and lock it in place similar to the M240B machine gun.
The combination reduces the time Marines are exposed to enemy fire and shortens the time the weapon is out of operation for barrel changes, he said.
The third improvement is a flash hider at the end of the barrel that reduces muzzle flash to mask Marines’ position and limits whiteout conditions, helping the use of night vision while firing, Thompson said.
In total, the command will field 3,600 M2A1s to Marines, said Kelly Sullivan, a General Purpose Weapons progr