The XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) is under development as future replacement to the current M16/M4/M203 individual weapon system. The new weapon will have twice the effectiveness, standoff range (beyond 1,000 m’) and probability of incapacitation of targets compared to current M4/M203 weapons. It aims to combine the lethality of 20-mm programmable air-bursting munitions and 5.56-mm NATO ammunition combined with rugged, full-solution fire control system which will provide Future Force Warriors (FFW) with the firepower, precision and control they are required to use. The weapon is designed as a lightweight system, integrated with built-in a laser range finder and laser pointer, and illuminator for target acquisition. Aiming cues will be projected on the optical sight, based on ballistic computations processed by an integral fire control computer. The weapon will programmable switches for operation of various systems, such as radio, image recording and targeting. The systems will also have environmental sensors, electronic compass, target tracker, laser steering and thermal modules. Under development since 2002, the new weapon is expected to mature by 2006 and enter full production by 2008.
The U.S. Army is exploring a new 5.56-mm carbine design designated XM8 Lightweight Assault Rifle. Now being developed under a contract modification awarded by the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., to Alliant Techsystems, the XM8 is based on the 5.56-mm kinetic-energy weapon component of the XM29 OICW. Offering levels of integration, modularity and scalability, the XM8 will be approximately one pound lighter than the M4 carbine.