|Most of the information presented in this page on the G11 comes from two sources: The Die G11 Story, by Wolfgang Seel, for photographs, and a report called "The Development Status of the Heckler & Koch G11 Rifle with Caseless Ammunition" by Jim Schatz, the principal U.S. contact on the G11 project. There is probably no one on this side of the Atlantic who knows more about the G11 than he. Much of the information on the G11 here comes from that pamphlet. |
As early as the late 1960s, the West German military noted that even with the superior qualities inherent in the roller locked HK rifles such as the G3 provided only a marginal increase in combat capability over other more conventional rifles available worldwide.
The West German Department of Defense completed a list of design criteria for a new and revolutionary combat rifle that would multiply the individual combat capability of the West German infantryman. This request was completed in 1970. The search for the G11 rifle had begun. These design criteria were as follows:
Total length of the weapon: < 750 mm
Total weight of weapon including 100 rounds: < 4.5 kg
Number of rounds on the weapon: Min. 50
Full performance even under adverse conditions.
High hit probability in three round burst.
Effective range without sight adjustment because of flat trajectory: up to 300m.
The major area of concern for the designers was centered around the need to increase the soldier's abilitty to hit targets under realistic battlefield stress. It is well known that combat induced stress degrades the marksmanship ability of a rifleman.
Conventional fully automatic fire, even when limited to a burst of a predetermined number of rounds, seldom results in more targets hit. It is generally agreed that if the first round of a burst fired from a conventional assault rifle does not strike the target, the natural rotation of the human torso when subjected to the recoil impulse of weapon will direct the latter rounds of that burst high and to the right (or the left) over the target.
A study conducted by the Battelle Institute in Frankfurt, Germany in the early 1960s gave birth to two possible methods to dramatically increase the firer's probability of hitting a target with a single trigger pull.
1. The "Shotgun" Approach-- Launch a large number of projectiles instantaneously.
High recoil impulse
Large cartridge size. Limited combat load.
Limited range and penetration capabilities.
2. The "Salvo" Approach--
Launch multiple projectiles simultaneously in a defined pattern at a minimum of 2000 rounds per minute rate of fire. The Salvo Approach was adopted as the design characteristic of the G11.
Caseless became necessary to make the 2000 RPM requirement possible.
The G11 project started with the uniting of two German companies to attack the project with a team approach. These companies were Heckler & Koch for weapons design and Dynamit Nobel for ammunition design. Together these companies were known as GHGS or Gesellschaft für Hülsenlose Gewehrsysteme. (Corporation for Caseless Rifle Systems). They were joined by German optics maker Hensoldt/Wetzlar for the 1x optical sight that was to become the primary sighting system for the rifle.