In an effort to produce an indigenous product that utilized the existing .50 BMG/12.7x99 NATO standard round available in large numbers to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) while, at the same time, replacing the aging Browning M2HB heavy machine guns in widespread use, Chartered Industries of Singapore (CIS) developed the "CIS 50MG" air-cooled, heavy machine gun. In form, scope and function, the CIS 50MG does much of what the M2HB has done very well for so many years though the CIS 50MG is a modern alternative in the same weapon class that makes use of a unique dual-feed ammunition mechanism. The ammunition mechanism allows the operator to quickly switch between different cartridge types on-the-fly. The CIS 50MG also provides Singapore with an in-house solution, lowering its reliance on foreign-originated military products and allowing it to keep pace with other regional superpowers of the brewing Asia-Pacific arms race led by China.
Design of the CIS 50MG began in 1983, eventually producing a viable heavy machine gun system to the exact specifications of the SAF. While the Browning M2HB proved an excellent heavy machine gun for its time, the gun did not feature provisions for a quick-change barrel process and required constant adjustment and maintenance. The CIS approach was to produce a lighter system with simpler internal function that could prove more portable in-the-field while requiring less maintenance commitment. Limited production of the new CIS product then began in 1988 and, after several years of intense testing and evaluation, the CIS 50MG was formally adopted into SAF service in 1991 to directly replace the outgoing American Browning M2HB systems then in inventory. In 2000, the Singaporean concern of ST Engineering purchased CIS resulting in the weapon's current association with the "ST Kinetics" brand name. The firm handles all manner of production for the SAF including small arms, howitzers and armored fighting vehicles. Production of the CIS 50MG is ongoing as of this writing.
Outwardly, the CIS 50MG exhibits very clean, well-contoured design lines as opposed to the utilitarian appearance of the Browning M2HB (its own origins dating as far back as 1933). The receiver is a large, rectangular shape at the rear of the overall design, containing all of the pertinent internal working components including the firing action, chamber and trigger system. This receiver assembly weighs collectively less than that of the M2HB. To the rear of the receiver are spade-type grips for a firm two hand hold, the assumption being that the CIS 50MG is mounted on a flexible/trainable pintle or similar firing installation. The CIS 50MG is fed via a dual-feed ammunition system which also makes use of dual gas cylinders fitted along each side of the receiver. Each gas cylinder also contains its own gas piston required for the dual-feed operation and drives individual ammunition lines into to the receiver firing chamber. The dual-feed approach makes for expedited changing of available ammunition types to suit the needs of the operator based on targets available. The barrel protrudes a distance away from the forward end of the receiver and is "quick change" by design, featuring an integrated handle for reliable management. A trained gunnery crew is said to replace the heated barrel within seconds. Barrel-changing of air-cooled machine guns (as opposed to water-cooled derivatives) is something of a necessity to prevent barrel overheating. Spare barrels are issued to machine gun teams for this very reason. The barrel is completed with a small, yet efficient, muzzle brake. Sights are nothing more than an iron folding leaf installation ahead of the spade grips, aft of the ammunition feed though a reflex sight or night-vision device can be installed for accurized fire or low-light level situations. The weapon's running length is 65.7 inches while the barrel measures in at 44.9 inches.
The CIS 50MG is chambered for the .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) cartridge (12.7x99 NATO) and fires from standardized ammunition belts carried in metal box containers. As the weapon utilizes the same ammunition as the Browning M2HB before it, the CIS 50MG makes practical use of existing ammunition stores available to the SAF. Ammunition types themselves can be used to suit operator needs and include the base ball cartridge as well as Armor-Piercing (AP) types and a specialized light armor (Saboted Light Armor Penetrator - SLAP) cartridge and conventional "blank" ammunition for training. The feed consists of a single sprocket system with dual chutes located at the upper rear portion of the receiver where one ammunition supply can be "ball" in nature while the other chute can feed specialized ammunition (AP for example) to quickly respond to changing battlefield conditions. The overall action is conventionally gas-operated with an open, rotating bolt, featuring a listed rate-of-fire nearing between 400 and 600 rounds per minute. The open bolt is designed to avoid "cook-off" of ready-to-fire cartridges whilst seated in the hot firing chamber. The CIS 50MG sports a full-automatic and semi-automatic fire mode that is selected via switch near the trigger. Muzzle velocity is approximately 2,900 feet per second.
In addition to standard vehicle pintle mounts, the CIS 50MG can be mounted onto a heavy duty M3 tripod for the sustained fire role. In the former installation, the CIS 50MG can be fitted to naval watercraft, helicopters and vehicles as need be. The CIS 40/50 Cupola Weapon Station (CWS) allows for fitting the CIS 50MG to the roofs or turrets of armored vehicles.
Beyond its service with the SAF, the CIS 50MG is also fielded by the Singaporean coast guard to a limited extent. The only other operator of the CIS 50MG is Indonesia which produces the system under license as the "SMB-QCB" ("Senapan Mesim Berat-Quick Change Barrel") under the PT Pindad brand label.
Manufacturing Chartered Industries of Singapore (CIS) - Singapore
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