A little over three years ago the US Army told us about this great new high capacity ammunition carriage system that they had developed for the M240 Machine Gun. It was so awesome they even hog gave it a cool name. The ‘IronMan’ was created by Natick’s Quick Reaction Cell and the Rapid Equipping Force after a Soldier identified the need for a means to carry and feed up to 500 rounds of linked 7.62. We literally thought this was a one off kind of a thing to support the 34th ID and that would be the end of it.
Interestingly, the Army spent a lot of time (initial prototypes in 45 days with an operational assessment almost two years later) and money to develop these things before they finally purchased a bunch of them. When we first wrote about it in July of 2011, we noted the conceptual similarity to the existing TYR Tactical MICO. The MICO Machine Gunners Assault Pack was created first, on TYR’s dime, and chances are really good that some enterprising GI saw the MICO and wanted one. Instead, he got the IronMan.
Above is the Army’s IronMan and below the TYR Tactical MICO. They are definitely different executions of the same concept.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s been done before. There’s no question, the concept isn’t new. Below you can see a ‘China Lake’ pack system built for the SEALs and used with the M60.
The difference here is that the government designed something that was already commercially available and incurred greater costs than the commercial model’s. Even worse, we hear reports that the issue models have trouble feeding and that units have been buying the MICO from TYR Tactical as replacements. That’s paying twice for the same capability.
In the time it took the Army to finalize and test their design, TYR Tactical has continued to develop the MICO, not only ensuring it will work with both the M240 and Mk48 but also introducing adapters for the M249 and Mk46 5.56mm weapons. They’ve also developed a tripod carrier accessory for the pack.
If any SSD readers have experience with the IronMan (or the MICO for that matter), please share it in the comments section. We are hearing that most are out of service for various issues.
From here on out, we’ll just refer to it as ‘IronyMan”. When all is said and done, the Army takes years to field a system that already exists commercially and pays more to do it. Sound familiar?