Polartec Military

Breaking – PEO Soldier Media Roundtable – Individual Carbine Competition

We’ll update this post live with info as the Army releases it.

BG Ostrowski, PEO Soldier introduced the panel:
CSM Maunakea, Mr Fred Copolla PM Soldier Weapons, COL Paul Hill PM Ammo, COL Dan Burnette Maneuver Center Of Excellence and CSM Braxton from MCOE.

M4 Carbine

BG Ostrowski offered a brief history of the Individual Carbine requirement. Based on the draft solicitation released in Feb 2011 they fielded and answered over 320 questions. The final solicitation closed in October 2011. 8 competitors: Adcor, Beretta, Colt, FN, H&K, LMT, Remington and Troy bid on the program.

The goal of the program was a cost benefit analysis pitting those candidate weapons against the baseline M4 performance. In particular they looked at accuracy, reliability, life-cycle cost, and Soldier acceptance.

Phase I- Nov 2011
Administrative in nature. Spring 2012 all passed on to phase II.

Phase II – Spring 2012
Actual performance phase.
Accuracy – Candidate weapons must have offered accuracy of 5″ or less at 300m
Durability
Reliability – BG Ostrowski noted that the weapon as a system consists of the weapon itself, the magazine and the ammunition. Each of the vendors had different issues. As an aside, the IC program established a Mean Rounds Between Stoppages at 3592 rounds as a requirement. Conversely, when the M4 was fielded in 1990 it was required to offer 600 Mean Rounds Between Stoppages. To this day, the M4 continues to be tested against its baseline performance established in 1990 despite the Army’s new requirement for the IC, although the 3592 number was established during the Army’s performance qualification testing of the M855A1 round. The M4 itself exhibited 1691 class I and II MRBS during the M855A1 testing. The difference between the M4’s and IC parameters is one of the indications of that significant increase in performance that the Army is seeking.

During Phase II, 3 weapons per vendor each expended 21600 rounds in temperate testing. Next, they would have expended 36000 rounds in Phase III.

Phase III would have been a Limited User Test and IOT&E.

BG Ostrowski was surprised that it turned out this way but during Phase II, none met requirements to pass to Phase III. Primarily, reliability was the issue at hand.

The Army is NOT cancelling IC competition. It has to conclude the program as none met the minimum requirements to continue in the program. This was not test-fix-test venue but rather binary in nature as in pass/fail. Consequently, the Army’s hands are tied and BG Ostrowski noted that the Army would have moved forward if it would have been possible.

He went on to explain that the Army has not made a decision regarding steps ahead. MCOE is interested in increased lethality, range and accuracy however, there is no immediate plan to recompete this requirement.

The Army still wants a leap ahead technology.

The Army has made 92 improvements to the M4 since its initial fielding in 1990. The second path of the dual path strategy is still in full swing with conversion of the fleet of M4s to M4A1s. This includes a heavier barrel and full auto capability. BG Ostrowski wants to keep the “industrial base warm” and the Army has just issued an IDIQ contract to FN for additional M4s.

BG Ostrowski was very adamant that the M855A1 receives high Soldier acceptance despite the information in yesterday’s press release that indicated that the ammunition might be a mitigating factor in the failures. There is some question as to whether or not the press release was correct on this matter and unfortunately, this answer was not established.

Mr Fred Copolla noted that although it was an option in the requirement, none of the offerors introduced alternative calibers or ammunition to the competition.

16 Responses to “Breaking – PEO Soldier Media Roundtable – Individual Carbine Competition”

  1. cimg says:

    Not surprising that no other caliber was submitted, but if a significant step forward is wanted, looking at different calibers must be a factor. You can only make the M855 or 855A1 do so much.

  2. Angry Misha says:

    So, once again, the SAME Fred Copolla who justified NOT fielding the “Soldier Prefered” MBAV vice the current Soldier Plate Carrier System by stating; “We can’t just go with MBAV because it’s out there and battle-proven” (Army Times, 21 December 2009) is now stating that this is an “Accuracy” issue?

    They are asking for 5? group at 300m? That’s approaching Precision Rifle requirments. Is that a “Threshold” or “Objective”. Trust me, I’m not scoffing at improved accuracy, but lets face it, it’s the “Indian not the arrow” that is the mitigating factor in the realm of accuracy. Just because a system is capable, doesn’t mean the dude on the trigger can make it happen. The M4 with M855 is a 3 MOA system AT BEST. The Operational Requirment Document (ORD) for the SCAR-L in regards for “Threshold” accuracy requirments is 70% hit probability on a “Point Target” (Torso) at 500m and 70% hit probability at 600m on an “Area Target”. Now, if I use MK262 that hit probability goes up considerably. So, to me the “accuracy” requirment is a way for the PEO to “Game the Game”.

    I’m also interested in the “Mean Rounds Between Stoppages at 3592 rounds”. Again, is this a “Treshold” or “Objective”? How did they arrive at the magic number of “3,592”? Who’s ever fired 3,592 rounds in a single engagement? Once again, the ORD for the SCAR in regards to MRBS is 2000 (Threshold) and 8000 (Objective).

    Once again, “gaming the game”

    This is what happens when you don’t have trigger pullers in the GAO who are also familiar with other programs or do historical research.

    It would seem that if after the “improvments” to the M4 were seemed insufficiant and the PEO initiated the Improved Carbine” program, there should’ve been an Analysis of Alternatives Conducted. If so, why were currently fielded systems such as the IAR, SCAR-L and HK416 not considered? I mean, they are all fielded and fully provisioned systems. I’m not saying that we toss all the M4’s which are good systems, but you can do like they did with the M9 and M16A2 service wide and the M240G in the USMC by conducting a “phased fielding”, replaceing M4’s with the new systems to Ground Combat Elements and then trickle your way down to support establishments and finally the reserves. Probably 5 to 10 years which if history is any measure (and it usually is) will be just in time for our next major conflict.

    But then again, that would make sense.

    The end state is this. The M4’s in the current DoD stock are outdated and falling apart. Even if a new system cost more, it will most likely last longer. For example, the SCAR’s service life requirment is fully functional service life without overhaul for a minimum of 15,000 rounds (Threshold) or 90,000 rounds (Objective) for the weapon and 15,000 rounds (Threshold) or 35,000 rounds (Objective) for the barrel compared to the M4’s SERVICE LIFE of 6,000 rounds.

    So basically for every 1 SCAR the military buys, it would need 2 M4’s.

    Once again that’d make sense, but there’s no room for that here in the Improved Carbine effort lol

    • Bob says:

      Your logic is sound sir, but I must point out that while yes the army would go through two m4s for every scar it would hypothetically use, if the scar costs what it does now, well, the army can buy 3-4 m4s for that, and we really aren’t getting ahead by switching.
      Now if I may step on the soapbox, there never will be a great leap forward in firearms technology in this country, at least not as long as there are no serious customers. Each and every one of these carbines are fine semi auto weapons, but their full auto element is much the same as the m4, is it not? The Hughes amendment perminently removed the only way manufacturers had to offset development costs. No amount of police departments or foreign orders make up for the fact that we hamstrung our military by short sighted feel good legislation in the past. In this kind of environment we find ourselves constantly trying to squeeze more blood from the stone, the ’60’s era rifle and ’80’s outgrowth of a round. Do not mistake me, I have total confidence in my weapon, But there will never be a better mousetrap as long as it is illegal for manufacturers to make money of it.

      • cimg says:

        Good call, Hughes amendment is a huge reason why there are few domestic manufacturers left with involvement in military arms. No matter how you say it, FNUSA and BerettaUSA are still beholden to their offshore mother companies. Repeal the Hughes Amendement to FOPA and we could see many more start up like Robarms, and Magpul, diving in to the military market.

  3. Dumb Ass Marine says:

    I personally have fired over 10000 (at least) plus rounds through the Colt, FN and HK. As long as the weapon was\is maintained, never had an issue. I am also confused, the good General states that the existing M4 meet the standard, but the new Colt doesn’t (which is basically the same rifle).

    I agree with Angry Misha…get some trigger pullers into the process.

  4. […] Those tested included applicants from: Adcor, Beretta, Colt, FN, H&K, LMT, Remington and Troy. Breaking ? PEO Soldier Media Roundtable ? Individual Carbine Competition – Soldier Systems Reply With […]

  5. Kiel says:

    I don’t understand how after all this time, 92 improvements to the M4, and the UCP fiasco we’re still issuing weapon systems in Target Indicator Black.

  6. SSD says:

    I added a photo so that more people would read the article. It doesn’t have to have anything to actually do with the article but many won’t read the article because it doesn’t have a photo and might be filled with boring facts and such.

  7. Moe Sizlack says:

    You will never get any type of new carbine as long as colt and FNH hold the monoply on military fire arms. The M16 series weapons are really substandard weapons. And given the logic if the weapons are maintained, they are reliable, then why do the weapons have a high failure rate compared to other carbines in the comptition with the same amount of maintenence?

  8. Max says:

    So no camo news today? [censored] [censored] [censored]!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Badjujuu says:

    Going back to full auto huh? Shenanigans

  10. Jason says:

    As long as we don’t end up with a SCAR, it’s all good.

  11. Chicago Steve says:

    It would be interesting to know if the army considered testing with any other 5.56 variations. i.e. the MK318 SOST rounds or the MK262 77gr rounds.

    I bet if they did as opposed to just the M855, there might be better results.

    Additionally, the requirements were set absurdly high from the start. You need to bear in mind that if no suitable IC winner is found, the plan is move forward with piston upgrade kits. With consistent statements from politicos and military saying that direct impingement is fine for the job, buying a new rifle with the only major difference being a piston drive would look like egg on the face. Some may want this program to fail.

  12. My soap box says:

    So much history behind this effort that no one article can capture it all. Reader digest version of some points that were missed are below:
    1) Army did not seek to initiate this competition, Congress mandated a competition.
    2) Almost impossible to demonstrate a significant improvement when working with the same ammunition and such strict requirements that eliminate all trade space. (not to say that the 5.56mm is a bad round it is a lot better than people give it credit for, also the 7.62mm isn’t nearly the one hit one kill wonder people claim it to be; across most of the engagement space they are much closer than most realize). FYI, the M855A1 is bad ass.
    3) On the plus side for the tax payer, and the Soldier. The patent rights for the M4 are up for the next purchase order. This will enable the Army to compete production for the rifle based on an Army owned data package. The last time this happened the price of the main battle rifle fell to about 30% of what is was in prior purchase. Also, this competition generally drives small incremental improvements in accuracy and reliability as well via tighter tolerances.

  13. Garcia says:

    They’re looking for increased accuracy? 5 inch groups at 300 Meters, or roughly 1.5MOA. (1 1/2 inch group at 100 yards. )

    I think the M855A1 can do that.

    But I don’t think the Army or NASA for that matter is going to get 1.5 MOA out of any 14.5 inch barreled M4. Obviously a huge improvement from the current rifle would be free floating hand guards which would dramatically improve the accuracy of the M4. I’d like to see them go out to an 18 inch barrel to improve the muzzle velocity.

    The iron sights are junk too. The MATECH BUIS is garbage.. The Colt Carrying Handle rear sight is junk. The front sight post is a very poor design.

    The long range rear sight aperture is far too wide, this oughta get shrunk by half. The front sight post is nearly flat on top, way too wide. The front sight is way too large for any precision at all at 400 to 600 meters, though the round is capable of decent accuracy. The iron sights on the modern M16 and M4 are horrendous.

    Arguably one of the most successful rifles of WWII is the Mauser k98. Take a look at the front sight post: http://www.ltwerner.com/wwii.ltwerner/images/mauser-frontsight.gif

    You’ll note that it forms a precise aiming point, the tip of the center of the front sight post is easily recognizable, easy to focus on because the tip of the front sight is very precise. This is not the case with the M4. http://www.brownells.com/userdocs/skus/p_160301016_2.jpg

    The center of the tip of the front sight post is open to interpretation. It’s not instantly recognizable and easy to determine and concentrate your focus on to. At 400 and 500 meters it’s sort of a guess as to where exactly you’re aiming at because the front sight is so large relative to any man sized target out there at 400 and 500 meters.

    “So What?” I realize that’s what the ignorant will chime in with, because 99% of folks have no earthly idea what good rifle marksmanship is. Good marksmanship skills aren’t always imparted in the Army or the Marines. But these rifles are very capable of precision work with iron sights out to 600 meters. This is where the terminal ballistics geeks usually chime in and say that the terminal ballistics of the M855A1 round at 500 meters are weak… I have yet to find a single one of these terminal ballistic experts go out and let me shoot them at 600 meters just to prove how week the round is.

    Back to the sights… for most of the US Army it is a herculean effort to get a unit properly zeroed in a single day. This is true for many reasons. The rifle is not the problem, but that doesn’t mean the rifle cant be better. It’s my experience that most soldiers will cycle between focusing on center mass of the target to “the front sight post” to the rear sight. They will cycle between these three focal points rapidly and in no particular order and then jerk the hell out of the trigger while focused in on any one of the three. A problem is that “the front sight post” is very large in relation to the target, also most Soldiers don’t focus in on the same precise spot on the front sight post, just any old place on the front sight will do for them. It’s very difficult to determine the exact and precise spot on the front sight post to focus on because it is uniform and indistinct.

    A properly shaped front sight post will help make sure we’re all focusing on the same precise spot on the front sight… It will not mask targets at distance as the current front sight does – hiding distant targets from the Soldier. A narrow and precise front sight does not allow the target to disappear behind the front sight.

    “So what, we all use CCO’s or ACOG’s.” Point taken, the things are darn near indestructible. For reasons I don’t care to explore, the rifle should be able to shoot accurately all by itself out to 600 with iron sights.

    The rear sight elevation and windage adjustments need to be improved, better quality design. Say like 1/4 MOA adjustments for windage