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Machine Guns (MG) are fully automatic support weapon at high rates and firepower in which the ammunition feed is usually about ammunition belts.

The drive is effected either by the excess energy (blowback), the produced when firing gas pressure (gas pressure loader) or by means of external, usually electrical energy (separately driven). Basic document for the classification and procurement of machine guns in the armed forces is the Final functional requirement (AF) for "New machine guns" on 5 January 2009. She shares the machine guns in five product classes:

  • Machine gun Class Light (5.56 mm x 45, MG4)
  • Machine gun class means (7.62 mm x 51, MG3 and MG5)
  • Machine gun class mean high cadence (7.62 mm x 51 MG6)
  • Machine gun class heavy (caliber 12.7 mm x 99, M2, M3M)
  • Machine gun class heavy special forces (caliber 12.7 mm x 99)

The following description is limited to those machine guns of the army, which the hand weapons are attributable. Only lafette aided machine guns in the caliber 12.7 mm x 99 (Cal .50 BMG), ie the heavy machine guns class, are not considered here.

Machine gun MG3

The machine gun MG3 goes back to the MG42, which was developed even during World War II and produced. The MG42 was distinguished from its predecessor, the MG34, primarily through two fundamental innovations of:

Prototype of MG3A0A1 (Photo: Rheinmetall weapons and ammunition)

Manufacture took place by sheet metal stamping technique instead of machining, which significantly increased the production quantities and the use of resources could be reduced.

The roller shutter replaced the previous rotary bolt head, leaving a distinct cadence increased from 900 to up to 1,500 rounds per minute.

With formation of the Armed Forces in 1955 the MG42 caliber 8 was initially mm x 57 IS at the NATO 7.62 mm x 51 modified and provided with an additional closure lock that - combined with a new closing spring - the cadence to ca. reduced 1,200 rounds per minute. In this way, pipe wear and ammunition consumption have been optimized. This variant was designated MG1 (new production) and MG2 (converted old stocks). There were other adjustments, such as through use of a new recoil amplifier and changes to the Gurtzuführer to enable the Shooting of decay belts.

On August 1, 1966, the new design status has been set (and January 17, 1967 once again updated), who then founded the machine gun called MG3. Formally, the machine guns MG1, MG2 and MG3 released with the launch approval no. 3315 on May 13, 1969 to use in the Bundeswehr were.

as before, the MG1 - - until about 1977 Rheinmetall in Dusseldorf, the MG3 was produced. The production facilities, in particular facilities for sheet metal stamping parts were then sold. Therefore, in subsequent orders for the German Army from the years 1987 to 1989 substantial parts were manufactured under license and assembled by Rheinmetall. Overall, the Bundeswehr over 70,000 machine guns MG3 has raised from new production.

The machine gun MG3 is used in the armed forces in two variants: the infantry machine gun for the remote use or in a body-controlled carriages is designated MG3 (without additive), the paraxial used in armored vehicles or in remote-controlled carriages so-called aperture-MG is referred MG3A1. Both versions are basically mutually convertible. The only differences are that the MG3A1 the anti-aircraft sight, bipod, carrying strap and shoulder support are not mounted. There has a cap in place of buttstock, a ball ring to muzzle booster and a second replacement pipe.

In the currently used in the troupe machine guns are often found the names MG3 T ZUB or MG3A1 T ZUB. These indicate the equipment with Tarndrucktaschen and accessories; technically these weapons are unchanged.

For each MG3 include two and three each MG3A1 pipes. The pipes are to be changed due to the high thermal load in fast bursts after 150 rounds on the right located on the housing tube changing flap. Originally, the MG3 pipes were provided with grooves and lands. In order to ensure the durability of at least 16,000 shot, the tubes were hard chrome plated conically in an intermediate step. Current tubes are plated with polygonal profile, the use of the tubes with train / field profile is no longer permitted. The introduction of hard-core ammunition for combating protected targets has put the pipe production before new challenges. This ammunition is optimized for penetration capability in the target, but very rohrerosiv. Therefore, the latest production has been optimized, the chrome-plating again at MG3 pipes.

For the MG3 is accessories for firing exercises and maneuvers ammunition available. Little is known, however, that there is a supplementary set for use in the context of Bundeswehr operations abroad and for pre-deployment training, can be adapted to the optics and laser light modules to the MG3. This allows one - be achieved overnight fighting ability - albeit very limited.

The MG3 is designed only to the fire type "burst". Weapons side, the possibility of a single shot is not provided. The ammunition supply can take place with endless belts or decay belts with belt members DM60 or M13. The high cadence of the weapon does have it their impact on ammunition. Although the original MG42 to the NATO caliber was adapted mm 7.62, but the cartridges used in the armed forces differ in detail from NATO standard: the cartridge cases are on the cartridge base designed more than requested, in order to withstand the required pull-out forces. Another feature of the MG3 is the lift device used with which the weapon can only be secured in a tensioned state. This backup derogates both ergonomically from the other fuses introduced in the Bundeswehr handguns off as to be secured also covered by the intention assurance concept in which small arms in all states of charge.

The MG3 should be taken by 2014 successively from use and replaced by MG5. Due to its high rate of fire, robustness and fully available to mount the adaptation MG3 but still its place in the squad. As a coax-MG in the armored vehicles of the Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 family, as well as in Marder it will remain until further obtained because of there available to space without major modification of MOUNTINGS does not allow recording of MG5.

The age of the weapons, combined with the intensive use, leaves a distinct mark on the material. Above all, the weapon housing of MG3 often has stress-induced cracks, which are no longer repairable. Attempts to obtain on the world market in conformity with drawings replacement housing that meet the quality standards of the German armed forces were ultimately unsuccessful. Knowledge of the sheet metal embossing technology of this component is obviously lost in recent decades and could only be renewed by the reprint of a large-scale by which the investment would be economically feasible in the production. This is in view of the already in the delivery successor, the MG5 excluded.

Nevertheless, to keep the MG3 until his End of use ready for use, including unconventional approaches had to be tested. Therefore, a machined housing was commissioned about the company Rheinmetall, with the remaining requirements are to be met. The MG3 with this new housing is expected to be the name given to MG3 MG3 A0A1 or A1A1.

It's ironic that the success of the MG42 was based on the introduction of the sheet metal embossing technology, and now the MG3 can be held only by turning away from this manufacturing technology continues to use.

Machine gun MG4

The idea of ​​a light machine gun caliber 5.56 mm x 45 introduce for infantry forces is not new. The MG3 is due to its weight and its recoil only suitable to be hands-free shot from the shoulder. Even with the introduction of the G36 assault rifle mid-1990s, the introduction of a light machine gun of the same caliber was required as a support weapon for infantry group in parallel. However, these machine guns possessed called MG36 neither a means of belt-fed even to the tube changes, but differed from the assault rifles only by a reinforced pipe and a bipod. After completion of testing, the need carrier was on the procurement of pages waived; the ability was shown by introducing bipod and drum magazine as an optional accessory for the G36.

The MG4A3 (Photo: BAAINBw)

Only years later, beginning in 2004, was with the introduction of the system Future Soldier (share based system) a light machine gun, the MG4, procured as a support weapon for the respective groups of infantry. This is a fully automatic gas pressure loader with belt-fed by Heckler & Koch. The weapon also fires cartridges in caliber 5.56 mm and is operated from both sides in the protection scheme. The aim was to establish a uniform cartridges caliber within the infantry section. The MG4 is a gas operated from the bipod from shooting clear führiger as the MG3 and features - similar to the rifle G36 - via adaptive optical sights. The main battle distance is 300 m, the maximum engagement range of the MG4 is 600 m. As with the MG3 only the fire type "burst" is provided. Significant differences to the MG3 result z. B. when Pipe: The MG4 has due to the drive principle of the weapon via a gas sampling, there are reused drawn tubes and the tube change is effected by means of tube changing grip, which also serves as a carrying handle, seen in the weft direction towards the front.

The MG4 is currently being introduced in four variants in the armed forces:

MG4 (Future Soldier - Basic System)

The MG4 has in this version, via a two-leg as well as a mechanical shield or, alternatively, via the combination of a three-fold magnifying riflescope with a reflex sight (RSA-S). The built-in carrying handle scope is reminiscent of the optical design of the G36.

MG4A1 (installation weapon Puma)

The MG4A1 is scaffolded in Puma infantry fighting vehicle as axially parallel secondary armament. Compared to the infantry version of this gun installation lacks the buttstock, bipod and sight. In addition, the handle is replaced by a machine handle, which allows to control the lafettierten weapon by the gunner.

MG4A2 (Future Soldier - Advanced System)

The MG4A2 has more functionality compared to the MG4. It has a modified adjustable shoulder support; an integrated in a carrying handle scope has been omitted, for a sighting telescope 4 is received x 30 and a reflex sight RSA-S to the adapter rails of the lid; Moreover, the MG4A2 has additional controls that allow communication of the shooter in the system Future Soldier (push-to-talk button). In connection with the introduced to the units of the Future Nachtsichtoptroniken (laser light module Vario-Ray, night vision amplifier attachment NSV 600, infrared attachment IRV 600 or thermal imaging target device) can be performed with the MG4A2 even at night and limited visibility of the fire fighting.

MG4A2A1 (extension Waffenmix in use)

The MG4A2A1 was to strengthen the weapons mix procured in use with the aim to provide the necessary in special situations Fire gain at the infantry forces. Technically, this variant is identical to the MG4A2, but does not have the electronic connections to the communication system of the Future Soldier.

It is envisaged at the MG4 also in cross-section in a version MG4A3, ie outside the system Future Soldier or the Puma weapons system to raise for the troops. The MG4A3 will resemble the MG4A2A1; the substantial change is related to the backup policy in which the philosophy of is transmitted in all states of charge to be backed up from the machine gun MG5 on the MG4. Following the introduction of MG4A3 is intended to convert all MG4 variants to this security concept, so that operation and safety of the new machine gun-generation caliber independent uniform in the Bundeswehr and handling / operating errors are minimized.

The detection pattern of MG4A3 are currently in the integrated verification. Upon successful completion and final fixed construction stand the conversion of the remaining MG4 fleet is intended (except for the MG4A1 SPz PUMA).

Machine gun MG5

The MG5 is introduced as a medium machine gun for the cross-sectional utilization and thus as successor to the MG3 in the Bundeswehr. It can be served as a universal machine gun as well as used lafettiert. In response to a variety of unintended income taxes with the MG3 the requirement was set that the new weapon must be secure in all states of charge. The decision was made in 2013 in favor of the Heckler & Koch HK121 under the company name machine gun offered. This is a two-axis gas operated weapon in caliber 7.62 mm x 51 technically similar to MG4 and forms a weapons family. As previously imported machine guns is also designed the MG5 exclusively to the fire type "burst". The main battle distance is 600 m, the maximum engagement range of MG5 is 1,000 m.

The MG5A2 (Photo: BAAINBw)

The MG5 has a variety of features and innovations. The coloring in RAL 8000 Hazel is only a small but overt detail. Interestingly, the technical aspects are:

The safety device of the weapon is equally operated for right and left handed. Another new feature is the folding, length and height adjustable shoulder stock, which also allows in angeklapptem state the full weapons function. Moreover, there is another, specially adapted to the needs of the infantry, modified shoulder rest.

The precision demands on the MG5 were significantly increased compared with the MG3. The previously valid scattered circle of 40 cm diameter 100 m target distance with seven shot at clamped weapon (MG3) is to meet the MG5 with 30 shots from the bipod. In addition, a requirement for the accuracy of fire tear and precision requirement for the accuracy position of the two gun barrels is another. This means that each pipe pair facing each other and can only be replaced together. In addition, the tubes of the MG5 explicitly on the use of hard-core ammunition (Mischgurtung 1 x Hard Core: 1 x tracer: 1 x soft core) designed.

Another special feature of the weapon is the ability to cadence regulation by adjustment of the gas sample. As a result, the function of the weapon (the weapon cold, pollution, shooting at extreme elevation) can be ensured even under extreme conditions.

By compared to MG3 significantly lower recoil forces during MG5 a telescopic tube 4 can be used with red dot x 30 (ZF 4x30i RD) as the primary objective optical system that is mounted on the adapter rail of the lid. Night vision attachment devices or thermal imaging target devices can be mounted in front of the ZF 4 x 30, so that a night fighting capability is available. Likewise, more objective tools such as laser light modules can attach to the adapter rails of the MG5. An anti-aircraft sight and a Notvisier complete the target facilities MG5.

The ammunition feed is the MG5 about decay belts with the belt members DM60 or M13. Since the belt-fed the MG5 was optimized in this decay belts, the use would have required endless belts own Gurtzuführer; for operational and logistical reasons, it has waived this option. However, for the Verschuss maneuver munitions, a separate Gurtzuführschacht and a collapsible blank cartridge device to be delivered. For the Shooting of practice ammunition currently an exercise closure system is realized.

The MG5 is introduced in three versions in the armed forces:

MG5 (standard weapon)

The MG5 is a standard weapon for the cross- sectional application served both as well as provided lafettiert. It comes with two tubes of 550 mm in length and has a bipod and a length-adjustable shoulder support. The Hauptvisierung consists of a rail mounted on the adapter of the lid riflescope with 4 x 30 Rotpunkt; furthermore, the MG5 has an air defense shield and a mechanical Notvisier. Delivery of the standard weapon began, 2015.

MG5A1 (installation weapon)

The MG5A1 to serve as a built-gun in remote controlled weapon stations. It has no buttstock and no optical sights; The handle is replaced by a machine handle. The initial requirement for a gun barrel having a length of 660 mm to increase precision and penetration capacity was discarded because the performance of the standard tube is rated as sufficient. The logistics for an additional length of pipe could be avoided. The MG5A1 will therefore also equipped with tubes of 550 mm length. took place the start of the delivery of the MG5A1 in April of 2019.

MG5A2 (infantry weapon)

The MG5A2 is equipped with two short tubes of 460 mm length, a storm handle with integrated bipod and a length and height adjustable shoulder rest and is provided mainly for dismounted infantry operations. As with the standard weapon infantry weapon has a scope 4 x 30 with red dot. The MG5A2 is already in the delivery to the troops.

Currently, the continuous delivery of the MG5 and MG5A2 running. took place the start of the delivery of the MG5A1 in April 2019. In November 2019, all weapons were shipped all variants in relation to the initial supply of the Bundeswehr. At the same time the required carriage adaptations are developed, which are necessary for the MG5 the MG3 (up to the coaxial use in armored vehicles) completely detached.

Currently contractually 7114 MG5 responsible. Any additional demand coverage has not yet reached a final decision.

Machine gun MG6

The machine gun MG6 is one of the machine guns class means high cadence and is obtained only in small quantities for special purposes.

The MG6 on Bundeswehr tripod (Photo: WTD 91)

This is the MG6 to an air-cooled rotary tube machine gun of the company. Dillon, USA, with a tube bundle to six tubes in 7.62 mm x 51 NATO with electric drive.

It is thus one no longer the classic definition of small arms but is only lafettiert on (air) vehicles on RHIB boats (Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat) or operated stationary on a tripod made. The weapon has a rate of fire of up to 3,000 rounds per minute and combating acts of fast moving targets at a distance m to 1,000. In order to meet the cadenza related ammunition requirement, the strap lengths of decay belts were increased for this weapon of 120 shots in 500 rounds. The inflow of the planned 42 series weapons began with 28 systems in January of 2019.

Author: Technical Regierungsrat Robin Kettel is the project machine guns (MG4 MG5 and MG6) at the Federal Office for equipment, information technology and use of the Bundeswehr K6.2.