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ARMY SEEKS TO REPLACE M-16

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The Army is searching for an automatic rifle to replace the M-16, which has been used since the Vietnam war.

The goal is to develop a weapon that will make the 21st century soldier twice as effective at killing enemy troops, overcoming battlefield stress and unpredictable targets."The M16A2 is the finest combat rifle in the world, but the accuracy of that weapon because of human factors is not as high as one would like it to be," said Pete Rowland, public affairs officer for the Army's Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

Since September, 36 Army and Air Force shooters have been conducting preliminary tests with four advanced combat rifle prototypes at Fort Benning.

The Army has spent about $40 million since 1982 on research and development and expects to spend another $17 million by 1991, when officials decide what technology to pursue.

The prototypes were submitted by Colt Industries of Hartford, Conn.; Steyr-Daimler-Puch of Steyr, Austria; AAI Corp. of Hunt Valley, Md.; and Heckler & Koch, a German firm with a U.S. subsidiary in Virginia.