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Special Operations Weapons

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What type of specialized equipment and weapons do SEALs use?

NAVY SEALsNavy SEALs operate in a variety of demanding and challenging circumstances. From the water, air or land, SEALs adapt to nearly any environment using teamwork, training and high-tech equipment to accomplish their missions. From high-altitude parachutes to stealthy watercraft and desert or arctic camouflage, SEAL operations require a diverse range of equipment, both for individual SEALs and to transport teams to and from missions.

Navy SEALsEach SEAL team is assigned to an Area of Operations (AO) and is specially trained to handle that type of terrain - desert, arctic, woodland or jungle. For example, desert operations require overcoming extreme heat; arctic operations necessitate winter warfare training; and woodland and jungle operations rely on camouflage to blend into the surroundings. Special tactics, techniques and equipment apply to each AO - from SEAL Delivery Vehicles and high-speed gunner boats to advanced SCUBA gear and other sophisticated equipment.

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M-4The M4 Carbine is a converted M-16 semi-automatic rifle and the most common weapon in the SF inventory. The M4 features a collapseable stock and is readily adaptable to accomodate scopes, night vision aparatuses and add-ons such as grenade launchers (left, M203) or even shotguns. Firing the standard NATO 5.56mm round, the M4 is the preferred weapon on the close combat battlefield.

Few weapons provide today's special "operators" with the tactical flexibility offered by the M16/M4 series' Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) hardware. Under the coordination of the SOPMOD Program Management Office at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., the SOPMOD is a kit concept designed to provide standardized, versatile weapons accessories to meet needs across special operations mission scenarios. Individual accessories are selected for the SOPMOD kit based on their contribution toward increasing operator survivability and lethality by enhanced weapon performance, target acquisition, signature suppression and fire control.The SOPMOD concept is based around the M4A1, the special operations variant of the Colt 5.56 x 45mm M4 Carbine, a versatile weapons system with a sliding buttstock and 14.5-in. barrel (the special operations A1 version is capable of fully automatic fire). When equipped with multiple accessory-mounting surfaces, the M4A1 SOPMOD allows the special operator to tailor his weapon to specific mission requirements.

Examples of the components contained in the current SOPMOD kit include: 4X Day Scope, Reflex Sight, Rail Interface System (MIL-STD 1913), Vertical Forward Handgrip, Quick Attach/Detach 40mm M203 Grenade Launcher Mount and Modified Leaf Sight, Quick Attach/Detach Suppressor, Infrared Laser Pointer/Illuminator, Visible Laser, Visible Bright Light (9-volt flashlight), Backup Iron Sight, Combat Sling, Sloping Cheek Weld Stock, Mini Night Vision Sight, Universal Pocket-scope Mount, 9-in. M203 Grenade Launcher Barrel, and Kit Carrying/Storage Case.

In addition to these components, there are rumors of a 10.5-in. barrel "upper receiver" component option as well as ongoing plans to add an enhanced grenade launcher module (EGLM) to replace the aging bottom-loading M203 attachment. One example of an available system that could meet EGLM requirements is the AG36 side-loading 40mm grenade launcher developed by Heckler & Koch.

HK MP5Another weapon category for selected special operations scenarios is the submachine gun/machine pistol, with one of the most popular models being the 9mm Heckler & Koch MP5 machine pistol.

At one time the MP5 was offered in both .40-cal. and 10mm designs, but those options have been discontinued, with only the 9mm MP5 currently manufactured.

With over 120 variants available, the MP5 meets the broadest range of tactical requirements. Examples of its flexibility in special operations can be seen in the MP5K-PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) variant, with features like a folding buttstock, vertical foregrip, and threaded barrel for accessory attachments. In addition to these tactical features, various MP5 trigger group options range from the single-fire semiautomatic variant to the fully automatic "Navy trigger group" favored by many U.S. special operators.

Although the 9mm MP5 remains a popular base system, Heckler & Koch representatives point to their new UMP (Universal Machine Pistol) Submachine Guns as the next likely addition to special operations armories.

SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV)
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Members of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two (SDVT-2) huddle together inside a flooded Dry Deck Shelter mounted on the back of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine Philadelphia (SSN-690), May 5, 2005. Dry Deck Shelters (DDS) provide specially configured nuclear powered submarines with a greater capability of deploying Special Operations Forces (SOF). DDSs can transport, deploy, and recover SOF teams from Combat Rubber Raiding Crafts (CRRCs) or SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDVs), all while remaining submerged. SDVT-2 is stationed at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., and conducts operations throughout the Atlantic and Southern, and European command geographic areas of responsibility.

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For detailed information regarding the Warning Order, SEAL training expectations and best ways to prepare, check out our Navy SEALs Training section.

SEAL BUD/S Training is demanding.  Prepare yourself for your training, mentally and physically. 
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