The US Airforce has official announced that is has begun to procure the first of approximately 125,000 new Sig Sauer M18 pistols. The Airforce announced back in 2018 that it would opt for the compact M18 over the full size M17 pistol as its next service pistol. The first M18 pistols where made available to Air Force Security Forces in May of 2019.

Now, the the pistols are being rolled out across the Air Force Security Forces along with other combat related units. The Sig Sauer M18 is replacing USAF Beretta M9 service pistol that has been in service since 1985.

The 125,000 M18 service pistols are costing the USAF $22.1 million dollars. In the Air Force’s 2020 Budget Justification suggests that the Air Force is seeking 131,200 M18 pistols for a total of $25 million dollars. The Air Force expects the delivery to be completed by August 2022.

Below is the press release from USAF regarding the rollout of the M18 service pistol.

Press Release

Combat arms units across the Air Force are getting new and improved 9mm caliber handguns to replace the M9 pistols that have been in service since 1985.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Small Arms Program Office acquired approximately 125,000 M18s from Sig Sauer for $22.1 million, and is making them available to Air Force organizations that have a handgun requirement.

The purchase includes test ammunition as well as engineering services.

“The Air Force bought the M9s back in the 1980s, and the design has not really changed since then,” said Merrill Adkison, Small Arms Program Office senior logistics manager. “M9s are larger, heavier, all-metal pistols; whereas M18s are lighter polymer pistols with a more consistent trigger pull and adjustable grips for large and small hands.”

Adkison added that providing a modern handgun to Airmen was important in part due to the increasing difficulty of replacing and sustaining older technology in M9s.

In response to issues with the age and sustainment of M9s, the Air Force Security Forces Center developed the Capability Production Document for the Modular Handgun System that the Army later adopted, resulting in procurement of the M17 and M18 Modular Handgun System.

The new M18 costs the Air Force about one-third of what it would cost to buy an M9 today.

“It is important for the U.S. Air Force to move forward with improvement and replacement of weapon systems to keep pace with potential adversaries and field the best technology and equipment available for our warfighters,” said Brian Lautzenheiser, lead program manager in the office. “The USAF Small Arms Program Office has worked with the Army to get these new weapons on contract and in the hands of the warfighters. We are a small team with a lot going on as we work to procure and sustain all small arms from pistols to .50 caliber ground-mounted machine guns. We have a great professional team that understands the importance of assisting the field to meet their needs.”

The program office anticipates that M18 delivery will be complete by August 2022.

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