Denel Land Systems (DLS) announced its new Denel Machine Gun (DGM) in two versions, an infantry section version, the DMG-5, and a heavy-barrelled version for mounted use, such as on a vehicle, the DMG-5 CX at AAD.
The DGM replaces the Denel SS-77 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) for the export market, according to Stephan Burger, Denel Land System’s CEO. He introduced a team of young engineers who had designed key elements of the new gun and pointed out they had been given the project without being told “it can’t be done”, and had done it.
The new GPMG was originally not designed for the SANDF but all options were open, Denel staff said.
The new DGM-5s key feature is its lightness. Weighing in at less than 8,4 kg it is two kilogrammes lighter than the SS-77, which in turn was slightly lighter than its predecessor, the FN MAG.
The GPMG was introduced by Germany in WWII as the MG 34/42 and is often wrongly called the “Spandau”. It featured a bipod, was belt fed and versatile, characterised by a high rate of fire and removable barrel (when it overheated). Modern GPMGs are essentially variations on the theme, although the even earlier Allied Light Machine Gun (LMG) used much the same ideas but was at a disadvantage through not having a belt feed, such as the BREN, which had a magazine.
DLS Marketing Executive Kobus Rautenbach said the DMG-5 is chambered for 7,62mm ammunition but it could be made available in 5,56mm, should the need arise. He said the smaller calibre was better for fighting in built-up areas (FIBUA) while the larger, more traditional machine gun ammunition was better in open terrain. He added the importance of the two kilogramme weight reduction, saying it was either two litres of water, ration packs or ammunition a soldier could carry.
The new machine gun is slightly shorter than its predecessor but this hardly affects performance, as the rifle can reach 3,000m maximum range with an effective range of 1,300m. The GPMG has a handgrip into which the bipod retracts.
Rautenbach explained: “Nowadays a lot of warfare is on patrol and you must be able to fire while walking. In a lot of countries that is the case. In jungle terrain, typically, you would carry it slung, but where the grass is too high, you can pick it up and use it in an assault rifle role. So it must be well-balanced, lightweight enough and controllable while firing”.
Of the CX version he said: “It’s a longer barrel for sustained fire; mounting points are international standard. You can drop it into any mount, whether it’s a simple mount or a remote mount. It can be remote-controlled by Solenoid firing or normal manual mount to do the firing.”
The new GPMG is redesigned in most areas except the receiver. DLS’ Steve Matthews explained that the gun fired from an open bolt, as the FN MAG and many other machine guns did, and used a side-locking bolt, another fairly standard feature. Matthews explained: “That got carried over (from the previous design). You don’t want to re-qualify that to spend a lot of money on something as reliable.”
The new GPMG can fire up to 400 rounds before the barrel needs to be cooled down or replaced, which is much higher than most GPMGs which need replacing in some cases after 200 rounds.
The GPMG has a telescopic stock instead of a folding one, and is the same joint venture with a foreign country (that was not named) that does the stock for the new R-4 version as part of Project Warrior.
Marumo Talane, who designed the lighter barrel, by cutting flanges, or grooves, into the barrel exterior, explained where he got the inspiration: “If you just think about the motorbike’s engine, for those flanges, it’s the same idea, because now, you do not have a large surface you have to heat, but you have a small surface, because extra material adds heat. The barrel is a few hundred milligrams lighter.”
An additional small feature, a slightly curved section called a flow line, affects the airflow over the barrel, further reducing barrel heat.
Additionally, the underhand grip is separate from the barrel, preventing the soldier from burning his hand while firing on fully automatic. Other machine guns tend to cover the barrel to do the same thing.
At the same launch, Burger announced the launch of the DM42 Commando Mortar System upgrade to the existing M4 Mk 2 and 3. Burger said the range on the mortar had almost been doubled.