With the recent release of the US Army’s FY2020 Budget Justification Books, we’ve seen some more exciting developments like procurement projection figures for the Next Generation Squad Weapon and the desire to M2010 sniper rifle with the Precision Sniper Rifle. The US Army’s ongoing M4 carbine modernisation program is just as important as these other programs as it forms part of the Army’s ‘Army Modernization’ initiative when aims to ‘Build a More Lethal Force through enhancement of Joint Lethality’.
The modernisation includes provision for combat optics like the ACOG as well as a Close Quarters Battle Kit (CQBK) – according to PEO Soldier the CQBK, which was introduced in 2010, “provides several low-cost, commercial off-the-shelf accessories for the M4 Carbine” including an improved weapons cleaning kit, a sling and a forward grip/bipod. Other elements of the modernisation include the Enhanced Performance Magazine (EPM), 5.56x45mm suppressors, color modifications to the weapon, and of course M4 to M4A1 upgrade kits.
The US Army requested upgrades to the M4 in 2009. The program to upgrade M4s to M4A1 spec began back in 2014, with the modernised carbines having a new M4A1 barrel assembly, a new full-auto trigger group, ambidextrous selectors, a new bolt assembly and gas tube.
Here’s how the budget justification book describes the Army’s M4 modernization program:
This program supports the Army Modernization priorities (Build a More Lethal Force) through enhancement of Joint Lethality in contested environments by minimizing and eliminating erosion of close combat capability relative to peer competitors in complex terrain as outlined in the National Defense Strategy (NDS). The M4 Carbine Modification Program provides combat optics, a Close Quarters Battle Kit (CQBK), an Enhanced Performance Magazine (EPM), 5.56mm suppressor, color modifications, and M4 to M4A1 carbine upgrade kits. The Improved Weapons Cleaning Kit (IWCK) contains necessary items to conduct a thorough and efficient cleaning of both weapon and optic, and has been reconfigured into: Individual Kit and Team Kit. The 5.56 Enhanced Performance Magazine (EPM) decreases weapon wear, significantly increases reliability, durability, readiness and maintains terminal performance of the M4 and M16 family of weapons. The 5.56mm suppressor and color modifications reduce the sound and visual signatures of the M4/M4A1 carbine as well as increase the difficulty of enemy forces to easily distinguish the Close Combat Force (CFT) and other units. The M4 Product Improvement Program converts all fielded M4 Carbines to M4A1 Carbine configuration to include the M4A1 heavy barrel assembly and full auto trigger mechanism and adding new ambidextrous fire control selector assembly
FY 2021 Base procurement dollars in the amount of $4.824 million supports the purchases of the enhanced performance magazine, the 5.56mm suppressor, components with color modifications, and the conversion of M4 to M4A1 Carbine. The M4 Carbine upgrade converts the M4 to the M4A1 configuration to include the M4A1 heavy barrel assembly and full auto trigger mechanism and adding new ambidextrous fire control selector assembly. FY 2021 funding covers labor for the M4 PIP system support modification work order team (MWO) to include the M4 PIP Staging Facility located in Anniston, Alabama, the M4 PIP Installation teams, and Tank Automotive Command (TACOM) MWO Support Team. The 5.56mm suppressor and color modifications reduce the sound and visual signatures of the M4/M4A1 carbine as well as increase the difficulty of enemy forces to easily distinguish the Close Combat Force (CFT) and other units.
Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.
Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs www.historicalfirearms.info, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of www.armourersbench.com, a new video series on historically significant small arms.
Reach Matt at: firstname.lastname@example.org