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BREAKING: USMC Begins Process To Issue M27 IAR to Every Rifleman; Issues RFI To Industry

Earlier today MARCORSYSCOM issued “Request for Information (RFI) M67854-17-I-1218 For Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM), Quantico, VA Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR)”. They are very clear at this point that is solely an initiation of market research under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 10 and is NOT a Request for Proposal (RFP). To be clear, issuing an RFI is a natural step in the acquisition process.

This action comes after a short duration experiment last Fall during which, an entire Marine Infantry Battalion was equipped with the IAR instead of their issue M4s. The experiment was obviously a success.  At the time there was still no requirement but apparently, they’ve worked that out and lined up funding to make this happen.

As the RFI only calls for the production of an additional 11,000 rifles, this means that only additional select Infantrymen will be issued the M27. Conversely, the Marines purchased over 45,000 M4 carbines. When the M27 IAR was initially selected, the Marines had undertaken a study to determine what it would cost and how quickly the manufacturer H&K, could build the rifles in order to pure fleet the service. At the time, H&K did not have the production capacity to meet the Marine Corps’ fielding timeline so the plan was scrapped. This new move may very well be incremental in nature, with further fielding taking a longer timeline and encompassing a larger portion of the Marines.

The 5.56mm M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle is manufactured by Heckler & Koch. It is based on their HK416 carbine and was fielded to the Marines to supplant beltfed the M249 SAW in the Rifle Squad. This RFI will assuredly be used by SYSCOM to create a a sole-source “Justification and Approval” in order to purchase the rifles directly from manufacturer H&K without going for an open solicitation. While the RFI describes the M27’s salient characteristics to a “T”, what may throw a monkey wrench in this plan is if another manufacturer or two claim they can build the weapons as well with a model based on a 416 clone.

We will watch this procurement closely and keep you updated on its progress. Offerers have until March 17th at 3:00 PM to respond.

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63 Responses to “BREAKING: USMC Begins Process To Issue M27 IAR to Every Rifleman; Issues RFI To Industry”

  1. TominVA says:

    Glad to see this happen. I’ve read a lot of good things about the IAR.

    Yeah, they’ll try to sole source it, but 11k rifles? That’s enough money to justify getting the lawyers involved and filing a protest. Based on response to the RFI though, I wonder if SYSCOM could use timeline as a justification, assuming H&K provides one aggressive enough that maybe only they could meet.

  2. Pistons rule the world.

    *awaits incoming flaming*

  3. haji says:

    I cannot wait to see the DPMS and LAR offerings for this RFI.

  4. d says:

    So would they just issue the automatic rifleman 60-round magazines for sustained fire? I mean how else do you designate a guy for that role if he’s got the same gun as everyone else?

    • Cuvie says:

      Currently, they just make him carry ~20 magazines

    • John Buol says:

      >> would they just issue the automatic rifleman 60-round magazines for sustained fire?

      Automatic rifles are not, and never were, intended for sustained fire because they aren’t machine guns.

      Given a squad with everyone armed with self loaders and many 30 round magazines, it could be argued the AR role is obsolete.

      • d says:

        You know who wouldn’t argue that? The Army that issues a 249 to their automatic riflemend.

        So back to my original question. If the IAR replaces the 249 in the fire team, what–if anything- -do they do when the IAR replaces the M4/M16A4

  5. Moshjath says:

    Meanwhile, the Army couldn’t even be bothered to follow through with the M4A1+ upgrade.

    • BravoMike says:

      Beat me to it…That was my first thought.

    • RayRaytheSBS says:

      Apples and oranges comparison here. The Army does not own the technical data package on the M4, the manufacturer does. Any changes to it need to be approved by, and conform with, that manufacturers’ TDP. So you get an M4A1 as opposed to something better. Unless you feel like getting a lemon like the SASS was when first issued. At least with the M4A1 we are removing the variable trigger weight the burst trigger the M4 had.

      • Moshjath says:

        I don’t see how it’s apples and oranges. The endstate the USMC seems to be striving for (more accurate weapon system for 03 series riflemen) is pretty much the same goal the Army was trying to achieve with the M4A1+ program. Seems to me that a joint upgrade program between the Army and Marines would be a better usage of taxpayer dollars, especially since it would be an accessory upgrade of a weapon system already fielded rather than a large scale purchase of the IAR.

        Was the fact that Colt holds the TDP for the M4 an issue when the Army was considering the M4A1+ upgrade?

        • RayRaytheSBS says:

          What you said makes sense, and normally that would be the way that the services do business. But the Marines have been in a procurement bonanza the past few years when it comes to individual weapons.

          I can neither confirm nor deny Colt’s involvement in the M4A1+ program being scrapped. But in my opinion, it would definitely not have made the process any easier.

        • Seamus says:

          To be fair Army is currently buying M4A1s from FN and not Colt. So I am unsure how Colt fits into the M4A1+ “program/concept”? If I am wrong on this please let me know.

          Additionally-change of subject here- the M4A1+ never should have been an issue if the Army had not invented a purposely ridiculous testing metric in the Individual Carbine Competition (that congress made them implement against their will) that no manufacturer on earth could have adhered to (let alone the Army’s darling M4 or M4A1) and then use the lack of achievement of this metric to “conclude” and not “cancel” the program.

          The US Army could be shooting one of a handful or fantastic guns that would all be better than the current M4 or M4A1 but sadly the egos and bureaucracy of the Puzzle Palace on the Potomac, once again knowingly prevented Soldiers from getting the best.

  6. rotorhd says:

    Being former US Army, I have to respect this move. Simper Fi, Devil Dogs! Is the USMC going to issue Magpul D-60 magazines to every rifleman? Does this bring more firepower to the team and squad level?

    Couple this with wanting to equip every Marine with suppressors, I like this move even more. http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/11/18/marine-corps-experimenting-new-service-rifle.html

    For the record, the current DI M4 is a fine weapon for most Combat Support, Combat Service Support and the remaining REMFs like me.

    • Seans says:

      I’m really curious what you think going or the IAR is going to offer over a M4A1?

    • Kit Badger says:

      I imagine the SureFire magazines may be a better fit, just with respect to ease of carrying them over something drum shaped…

      • DAN III says:

        The Surefire 60-round magazine is far from reliable. It does not untilize a non-tilt follower. Consequently, jamming of rounds in the body of the magazine occurs.

        My experience with the 60-round Surefire vs the MAGPUL 60-round drum has MAGPUL winning hands down, every time !

        Surefire makes great illumination products. They should stick to what they know best.

        • rotorhd says:

          I have no data on Surefire magazines but I do own a Magpul D-60. I’ve had zero issues w/ Magpul but it is slow to reload. I like it.

        • Sc-texas says:

          I concur. The Surefire magazines have been less than reliable. The Magpul drum is 100%

      • LCSO264 says:

        As I understand it, the Magpul 60-drum is vastly more reliable than the SF mags, which have been plagued with reliability issues. Not to mention the MC’s recent decision to buy PMAG for the IAR, I’d say the Magpul route is the likely way things will go.

  7. JSGlock34 says:

    I’d like to understand better what advantages the M27 demonstrated as a general issue rifle during the recent 29 Palms experiment. What little I’ve seen is complimentary of the M27’s superior accuracy and effective range when compared to a standard M4, factors that are largely attributable to the free float handguard and rail system. I’d be curious to see how the M27 stacks up against a SOPMOD Block 2 M4A1, and whether simply adopting a free float handguard (like the DD RIS II) for general issue provides the sought after performance benefits (at a much lower price).

  8. TominVA says:

    Apart from the rifle, there needs to be a Manhattan Project to get the combat load down for Marines and Soldiers. Doesn’t have to be a strictly gear based solution, but that would have to be part of it. I experience pain every time I see pics of those guys in the field, even sans rucks. Is the force over-accessorized?

  9. Diddler says:

    I’ve always maintained that the whole point of this was to get 416s into the hands of Marines. I am always amazed at how efficient the USMC is at getting what they want. Bravo

  10. Smedley says:

    Interesting. Surefire 60rnd mags don’t work, and I just don’t see how u replace a belt fed system in that role. Would love to see a lighter belt fed like the Ares upper or Knights LMG get a look….. unless this is just a ploy to get 416s? And I am curious to see how this will go, a $4k+ 416 compared to a $300 Colt.

    • Bobby davro says:

      The marines won’t pay $4k the way manufactures make their money is in the parts and maintainance contracts that go with the weapons

    • LCSO264 says:

      A government purchased 416 cost no where near $4k. I don’t have the current gov. price handy. Are they more expensive than an M4, yes, modestly. some of that cost increase could be done away with by simply going with an upper swap, cutting out the cost of a new lower that is only a slightly different in appearance Mil-Spec lower.

      Now, on the civilian market, $4k for a 416 upper has become the norm, that is true.

  11. Darren says:

    When I submitted for IAR, it was clear that this was the ultimate goal. And like most fedbiz solicitations, it was clear they already picked the 416.

  12. kit krazy says:

    I tried to read most of this, but got lost in the mess. No one brought up the new US factory, at least not in depth? I couldn’t stop thinking about these being good practice for new employees before they make the new 433 that will be a big mover for civis.

  13. P.T. McCain says:

    HK announced recently that they are investing $30,000,000 in their Columbus, GA manufacturing facility, bringing in both German and Americans to increase their domestic manufacturing capacity. M110 CSASS, HK433, and now this news coming within a relatively short time frame. I don’t think one has to be a rocket scientist to connect the dots here.

    What baffles me is why all the hate over on the M4Carbine.net forum for HK in general, HK piston driven ARs in specific and even the rather routine blasts directed at SSD.

    Weirdness abounds.

  14. SSD says:

    Don’t get wrapped around the axel over this number. It’s a number for an RFI. It just gives everyone a mark in the wall as a measurement. An actual RFP will have a much more realistic number based on the issue plan.

  15. John Buol says:

    This sounds like a good description of what the M16A5 and M4A2 should be!

  16. Aidan says:

    Honestly, a lot of this could be solved by just having a few different configurations for the IAR, like issuing a more durable barrel with 60 round or drum mags with an M145, while issuing the rest of the fireteam (Barring the leader with the grenade launcher) with RCOs and 30 round mags. Hell, you could probably put a 6x optic on it with an extended 20 inch barrel and call it a marksman configuration.

  17. Seamus says:

    You know, the 18th Airborne Corps in the Army has issued lighter and shorter SAWs for a decade now. Our guys loved them. In Afghanistan they humped them up and down the mountains and did maneuver on the enemy time and again. SOCOM has been issuing the Mk48 to answer the problem of the too heavy M240 for some time now with great success, even replacing the SAWs at times in some units (i.e. ODAs and Rangers)

    With the developments and lessons learned in Afghanistan and Ukraine having high volume fires and belt fed weapons proved crucial, in both maneuver and defense. Hell many ODAs has M134s minions on the back of truck in order to effectively break ambushes.

    Personally I think the MC is solving one problem, excess weight, while creating another, lack of firepower.

    In any near-peer fight BOTH firepower and maneuver are necessary, I think the MC has hedged its bets too much with weight reduction than with firepower, especially since lighter M249s and alternatives like the Mk48 exist.

  18. Stan Smith says:

    You two are a riot.

  19. SSD says:

    SOCOM also has the Mk 46 variant of the SAW.

  20. LCSO264 says:

    this would explain HK-USA’s rapid opening/upgrading of their Georgia facility, allowing them to either augment German production, or allow Germany to focus on turning out components that are assembled in Georgia…

    Admittedly, I know very little about copyright and patent law, but historically HK has been pretty vigilant in trying to protect their intellectual property. With that said, I would assume any “clone” would be a licensed copy in which HK received a slice of that pie? again, just my thoughts, I’m certainly not a patent lawyer.