Weight: 8.2 kg without ammunition and optical sights
Length: ~ 1000 mm
Length of barrel: no data
Rate of fire: ~ 700 rounds/min
The MK48 Mod 0 Lightweight Machinegun is being developed by the FN Manufacturing Inc. (an US-based outfit of famous Belgian company FN Herstal). The request for new weapon came in 2001, and the first units in the US Special Operations Forces are scheduled to receive this machine guns in August 2003. The MK48 Mod 0 is due to replace venerable MK43, a variant of the M60, many of which are quoted as insufficiently reliable. USSOCOM plans are to acquire several hundred MK48s. It also probably will be offered for export by FN Mfg when the initial US Govt contract is completed.
The MK48 is a "big brother", or a scaled-up version of the 5.56mm MK46, a derivative of the famous FN Minimi / M249 light machine gun. Both the 5.56mm MK46 and 7.62mm MK48 were developed for US Special Operations Forces, led by the US Navy, hence the MK (Mark) designation.
The key advantages of the MK48 over the 7.62mm M240 / FN MAG are the light weight (essential for SpecOps, 17% lighter than M240B), parts compatibility with M240 and MK46, and a rail mounting system that can be fitted with various sights and SOPMOD kit accessories. The MK48 will provide several firepower advantages (in both terminal effectiveness and range) over the MK46 and M249, being much lighter than M240 and more reliable than the MK43.
The MK48 is a gas operated, air cooled, belt fed machine gun. Its action is very similar to the Minimi, being a gas operated with an underbarrel gas system and a rotating bolt locking. The gun is fed using standard disintegrating 7.62mm belts (no magazine feed is available. Belts can be fed from separate boxes or clip-on combat pouches for 100 rounds. The barrel is quick-detachable and has a carrying handle to assist replacement of hot barrels. The MK48 is fitted with open sights, and has 5 Picatinny rails (one on the top of the receiver, 4 on the fore end), that can accept wide variety of sights and accessories. It is fitted with a solid, non-folding plastic buttstock, folding integral bipod, and a carrying sling. It can also can be mounted on vehicles and infantry tripods for sustained or long range fire missions.