The U.S. Army is eyeing a new assault rifle that can rip through body armor with the power of a battle tank.
A lineup of Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifles (NGSAR) are expected to be in troops hands as soon as 2022, according to The Military Times.
The 6.8mm rifles not only pack greater force, but also feature improved precision from greater distances and are also able to handle all-weather and terrain encountered by soldiers.
Army officials are so pleased with the outcome that they say the rifles are ‘better than any weapon on earth today, by far.’
‘This is a weapon that could defeat any body armor, any planned body armor that we know of in the future,’ Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Military Times.
‘This is a weapon that can go out at ranges that are unknown today and that you can see accurately.
‘There is a target acquisition system built into this thing that is unlike anything that exists today,’ Milley said.
He added that it’s a ‘very sophisticated weapon’ that will likely be ‘resilient’ to many of the conditions soldiers endure.
‘It will stand all the rigors of weather, terrain and soldier use, and all of that kind of stuff,’ Milley told Military Times.
‘This is a pretty impressive gun. It will be better than any weapon on earth today, by far.’
Army soldiers currently use dated M16/M4 weapons that were first doled out more than 50 years ago.
Once ready to go, they’ll also replace the approximately 80,000 M249 squad automatic weapons currently in use.
The new weapon is initially targeted for close combat units like infantry, scouts and special operations, according to The Military Times.
It weighs less, is more powerful than prior assault rifles and can shoot further – extending soldiers’ range from 300 meters to 600 meters.
Natural differences in terrain can get in the way of the gun’s extended range, but the service says increased ‘power and barrier penetration’ will give them greater defense against various environments, like urban obstacles, according to Military Times.
‘We’re looking to reach out around 600 meters and have lethal effects even if the target is protected by body armor.’
The Army put out a notice in October for prototypes of a 6.8mm light machine gun and has since announced that the prototypes for the new weapon are expected to be ready for test fires by next summer.
In addition to new assault rifles, troops will also receive advanced night vision and sophisticated targeting systems by the end of next year.
The U.S. isn’t the only country focused on developing next-generation weaponry.
The Chinese military has built a Star Wars-like laser AK-47 capable of causing ‘pain beyond endurance.’
The handheld weapon can hit targets half a mile away using an energy beam that cannot be seen but causes ‘instant carbonisation’ of human skin.
The weapon, which is powerful enough to pass through windows, can burn through clothes in a split second, claim scientists who have not been named due to the sensitivity of the project.