- Squad automatic weapon
"For the weapon known in British Forces service as the LSW, see
SA80""For the weapon known in American service as the SAW, see M249"
A squad automatic weapon (SAW, also known as section automatic weapon or light support weapon) is a light or
general purpose machine gun, usually equipped with a bipodand firing a rifle-caliber cartridge. A SAW is used to provide suppressive firefor an infantry squador section, and typically uses the same ammunition as the assault rifles carried by other members of the unit, simplifying military logistics. [ [http://www.mil.fi/maavoimat/kalustoesittely/index.dsp?level=63&equipment=42 Presentation of the KvKK 62at www.mil.fi] (in Finnish).]
The basic use of this weapon is to force enemy troops to take cover and reduce the effectiveness of their return fire while friendly troops advance, increasing the likelihood of a successful attack against an enemy position. SAWs must therefore be light enough for an individual soldier to carry and fire. SAWs may also be used in defending friendly positions, but cannot provide a field of fire as effective as that of a tripod-mounted machine gun.
Many SAWs (such as the RPK-74 and L86) are modified
assault rifles. The most common SAWs in use today are derived from two basic patterns: RPKor FN Minimi. One of the first weapons designed for this role was the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, which, though having a limited magazine capacity, was still higher than the typical infantry rifle, and it gave the infantry a base of fire weapon that was more suited to maneuver warfare than the bulkier machine guns of the period, such as the M1919 Browning machine gun.
Assault rifles often provide a fully automatic setting, but troops too often become excited in combat and waste large amounts of ammunition. Therefore, in many modern armies, military doctrinerequires the ordinary soldier to avoid using his weapon's fully automatic mode unless defending against a mass assault or an ambush.
This doctrine greatly reduces logistic loads, including combat pack weights, aerial resupply, and fuel requirements. It reduces training requirements and expense, and also extends patrol time for a typical soldier.
However, this doctrine provides no sustained fire support during an assault. The SAW was invented so that a machine gun could be carried in the attack, but is a specialist weapon to avoid unnecessary use of ammunition.
When applied to civil or irregular
militia, this doctrine makes private purchase of ammunition affordable, and allows militia to train and operate with standard military doctrines using nonmilitary repeating rifles. In war time, such lightly-equipped civil militia can be easily upgraded by distributing relatively few SAWs, one per squad, and training.
* SAWs require less training than medium or heavy automatic weapons. Fully-automatic weapons require large amounts of expensive live-fire training before troops learn to actually hit targets while not wasting ammunition. SAW doctrine reduces training costs by limiting advanced training to a few picked specialists, usually the men who carry the weapon and its spare ammunition.
* SAWs are more effective than assault rifles in fully automatic mode. Hand-held fully automatic fire is difficult to control and is less likely to hit an incapacitating part of the enemy's anatomy. A SAW usually has a
bipod, which permits the operator to rest the weapon on the ground or other object, increasing stability and reducing operator fatigue.
* SAWs are more reliable than assault rifles under intense firing. A practical assault rifle needs to be lightweight, and is therefore prone to overheat or malfunction under the stresses of continuous fully automatic fire. Because it is carried by a specialist with a specialized pack load, a SAW can have a heavier barrel and a sturdier action without unduly burdening the entire squad.
Heckler & Koch HK11
Heckler & Koch HK21
Heckler & Koch MG4
M60 machine gun
Madsen machine gun
Mk 48 Mod 0 machine gun
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