- Objective Individual Combat Weapon program
XM29 OICWfor more information on that subset of the overall program"
The Objective Individual Combat Weapon or OICW refers to the next-generation service
riflecompetition that was under development as part of the United States ArmyOICW program; the program was eventually discontinued without bringing the weapon out of the prototype phase. The acronym OICW is often used to refer to the entire weapons program.
It was started in the aftermath of the
Advanced Combat Rifle(or ACR) during the 1980s. Like the ACR program that came before it in the 1980s, it has largely been a failure in terms of achieving the specific program goals (e.g. replacing the M16) and has cost millions of dollars, but has resulted in many innovative weapons and weapon concepts as well as offshoot programs of its own.
The central idea of the program was to develop a rifle that enabled the attacking of targets behind cover by using airburst munitions. The munitions were to be much smaller than pre-existing
grenadesand grenade launchers, but large enough to be effective. The idea was refined into a combination of a short assault rifleand semi-automatic, low-velocity cannonfiring air-bursting munitions. The OICW aimed to use advances in computer technology in a weapon that fired grenades automatically pre-set to explode above or beside targets hidden from view. Fragmentation from the exploding grenades would defeat the target when normal rifle fire would be ineffective.
The winners of the first competition for the project during the 1990s were ATK and firearms manufacturer
Heckler & Kochwith the XM-29 OICW. They went on to build numerous prototypes of the rifle for the United Statesmilitary in the late 1990s. These projects centered on using a programmable 20 mm airburst munition-firing rifle by itself or with other projectile-based weapons attached. The 20 mm launcher was analyzed in various configurations, including a launcher by itself, with a 5.56 mm weapon (based on the HK G36), or with a MP7 PDW.
By the early 2000s, the weapon had settled on a design and was classified as the XM29. However, the weapon had serious problems - it did not meet weight or cost targets, and the 20 mm smart grenades did not seem to be lethal enough in testing. It was too heavy and too large to be operated effectively by a soldier, and the performance of the 5.56 mm kinetic-energy component had been sacrificed to lower overall weight.
This resulted in the army starting development on new weapons, and finally shelving the XM29 in 2004. The kinetic energy component split off into the
XM8 rifleprogram and the airburst component developed into the XM25airburst weapon. According to a presentation by Major Kevin Finch, Chief of the Small Arms Division of the Directorate of Combat Developmentsat the U.S. Army Infantry Center, there were three main parts to the OICW program.
Increment 1 (OICW 1) was a competition for a whole weapon system family similar to the XM8. The weapon system was to potentially replace the
M4 carbine, M16 rifle, M249 light machine gunand some M9 pistols. Other arms companies had contended that the OICW project goals had changed enough to warrant another competition. Potential challengers could include a weapons system based on an updated M16, the Steyr AUG, the aforementioned FN SCAR, and potentially any other manufacturer that fulfilled the Army requirements for participating. It also listed the shotgun being replaced by a modular shotgun system (XM26 LSS) mounted on the OICW 1 winner.
The Increment 1 portion was put on an eight-week hold in July 2005, primarily to take into account input and needs of other services. On October 31, 2005, the OICW I program was cancelled. The reason given for the cancellation was stated as: "This action has been taken in order for the Army to reevaluate its priorities for small caliber weapons, and to incorporate emerging requirements identified during
Operation Enduring Freedomand Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Government will also incorporate studies looking into current capability gaps during said reevaluation."
OICW Increment 2 was a stand-alone airburst weapon (the (
XM25). This is a standalone launcher that uses bigger 25 mm munition, and was intended to be a special applications and support weapon, not an individual combat weapon as previous models were. In 2005, the weapon underwent limited field trials and combat testing.
OICW Increment 3 was the XM29. The M203 was listed as being replaced by a combination of Increments 2 and 3. The M249 was also to be partially replaced by a lightweight MG (LMGA, now LSAT), which was listed as being the successor to the M60 and M240.
Overview of OICW related weapons
In the aftermath of the ACR program, the OICW program began. There were two main contenders, one design by AAI and its companies, and the other by ATK (with H&K and other companies); ATK and H&K won.
*Original OICW Concept, OICW program targets drafted (circa 1980s/early 1990s)
*OICW concepts/prototypes in 1990s
**20 mm smart grenade and 5.56 mm rifle in side by side configuration
**20 mm smart grenade stand alone unit
**20 mm smart grenade and
**20 mm smart grenade and 5.56 mm rifle in over-under configuration (
*Program temporarily suspended circa 2004. Restarted with separate 'increments' for different weapons.
*Some weapon programs involved with, stemming from, or using technology from the OICW project
XM8 rifle(5.56 kinetic energy component)
XM25(Uses low velocity 25 mm smart airburst munition)
XM109(Uses 'high velocity' 25 mm 'dumb' version of smart munition)
XM307 ACSW(Uses 'high velocity' 25 mm smart airburst munition; autocannon)
XM312(.50 BMG version of XM307)
Mk 47(Mk 47 Mod 0) (40 mm automatic grenade launcher capable of using smart 40 mm airburst grenades)
XM26 Lightweight Shotgun System(A lightweight shotgun attachment)
XM320(40 mm grenade launcher)
Special Purpose Individual Weapon(SPIW) (Project SALVO, etc.)
Future Rifle Program
Advanced Combat Rifle
*Close-Assault Weapon System
Advanced Individual Combat Weaponprogram
List of individual weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces
List of crew served weapons of the US Armed Forces
List of modern infantry related terms and acronyms
* [http://www.hkpro.com/oicw.htm More information including pictures]
* [http://www.janes.com/regional_news/americas/news/jdw/jdw050520_1_n.shtml Jane's Defense news on OICW program in May 2005]
* [http://www.janes.com/regional_news/americas/news/jdw/jdw000815_1_n.shtml Janes Defense news on OICW program in August 2000]
* [http://procnet.pica.army.mil/FBO/RFP/W15QKN-05-R-0449/W15QKN-05-R-0449.htm Pre-solicitation notice for OICW increment 1]
* [http://www.defensereview.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=707 DefenseReview entry on sources sought for Non-Developmental multi-configurable 5.56 mm modular weapon system]
* [http://www.militaryfactory.com/smallarms/detail.asp?smallarms_id=37 Military Factory Small Arms]
* [http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/11/oicw1-canceled-door-closes-on-xm8-for-now/index.php OICW I canceled]
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