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Heckler & Koch just pulled in a $33.5 million contract modification for the US Army’s newest rifles

Heckler & Koch has been awarded a contract modification by the US Army to the tune of $33.5 million, related to the production of the Army’s newest rifles

According to the Pentagon, the German arms giant will be expected to complete the contract by March 16, 2022. The rifles at the center of this modification are the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System, or CSASS, and Squad Designated Marksman Rifles, or SDMR.

[Read More: Army wants new compact semi-auto sniper system]

[Read More: These units are going airborne with the Army’s new CSASS]

As early as 2011, the Army started its search for a replacement or a deep reconfiguration for their M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper Systems, citing reliability issues among other problems while in-theater during the Global War on Terror.

By 2014, the Army began looking in earnest for an outright replacement for the SASS.

A Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System, CSASS, awaits its operator before a post-drop live fire exercise at Gryphon Group Range, N.C. (Chris OLeary/Army)
A Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System, CSASS, awaits its operator before a post-drop live fire exercise at Gryphon Group Range, N.C. (Chris OLeary/Army)

A decision was later made to also find a suitable replacement for the service’s Squad Designated Marksman Rifles (SDM-Rs), which were primarily modified M16s with more powerful optics than the standard Trijicon ACOG.

The SASS and SDM-R replacements, in particular, needed to offer soldiers and special operators a lighter precision rifle without sacrificing performance (i.e. , accuracy, range, reliability, and stopping power).

By 2016, the Army had found their new reach-out-and-touch-someone rifles in the form of H&K’s G28 platform — a variation of the company’s HK417 piston battle rifle, chambered for 7.62 NATO.

While the CSASS will be primarily oriented towards snipers who have graduated from the Army’s rigorous sniper school, the SDMR will be fielded by infantry platoons as their designated marksman solution, extending their deadly range far beyond the restrictions of their service rifles and light machine guns.

A soldier takes aim with a Squad Designated Marksman Rifle featuring a Sig Sauer optic. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Jenkins)
A soldier takes aim with a Squad Designated Marksman Rifle featuring a Sig Sauer optic. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Jenkins)

With that said, both rifles are fairly similar as they come from the same platform, and primarily differ in terms of application, the stocks they’ll be fielded with, and the scopes they’ll use.

Meeting an important Army objective, the CSASS — now officially designated the M110A1 — will be able to fire the M80A1 Enhanced Performance Round as well as the XM1158 Advanced Armor Piercing Round.

Per the original Department of Defense’s contract award in 2016, the initial planned order for M110A1s was 3,643 rifles, though with the new modification, that number could likely increase.

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