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Breaking – Army Concludes Individual Carbine Competition Without Winner – Updated

All IC Contenders Fail To Make It Past Phase II

I was alerted just an hour ago by multiple industry sources that the US Army Individual Carbine competition had concluded since none of the contenders made it past Phase II.

We understand that the Army plans to release a statement shortly. In that statement we expect that Army to verify this story and explain that none of the contenders offered a significant improvement over the currently issued M4 carbine.

This twist makes pending legislation in the House of Representatives version of the National Defense Authorization Act requiring the Army to complete the IC competition moot. Additionally, it allows the Army to reprogram funds set aside for the IC for other use.

The cancellation also falls in line with a prediction we made in March following testimony by Ms. Lynne M. Halbrooks, Principal Deputy Inspector General, Department of Defense Inspector General before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the program would be cancelled.

Soldier Shooting

Below is the Army’s press release.

FT. BELVOIR (13 June 2013) Following extensive testing of vendor-submitted carbines, the Army announced today that the Individual Carbine (IC) competition will formally conclude without the selection of a winner. None of the carbines evaluated during the testing phase of the competition met the minimum scoring requirement needed to continue to the next phase of the evaluation.

In lieu of a new competition for an IC, the Army will continue fielding and equipping Soldiers with the M4A1 carbine, which consistently performs well and has received high marks from Soldiers. Given limited fiscal resources, the Army’s decision would free IC funding to address other high priority Army needs. This decision is also consistent with recent testimony by the Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG) before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which questioned the value of an IC competition in light of existing upgrades to the M4 carbine.

The IC program consisted of a three-phased competitive strategy to determine whether industry could provide a best-value, improved alternative to the M4A1 carbine. Phase I consisted of reviews of vendor proposals and non-firing evaluations of bid samples. All vendors successfully met Phase I criteria. In 2012, the Army commenced Phase II of the competition, which subjected IC candidates to rigorous evaluations that tested the extreme limits of weapon performance in such areas as weapon system accuracy, reliability, and durability. For Phase III, the Army planned to award between zero and three contracts for weapons meeting Phase II requirements for further environmental and operationally oriented Soldier testing. Upon completion of all testing, the Army planned to conduct a cost benefit analysis between the top performing competitor and the M4A1 carbine.

At the conclusion of Phase II testing, however, no competitor demonstrated a significant improvement in weapon reliability — measured by mean rounds fired between weapon stoppage. Consistent with the program’s search for superior capability, the test for weapon reliability was exceptionally rigorous and exceeded performance experienced in a typical operational environment.

Based upon Army analysis, test results may have been affected by interaction between the ammunition, the magazine and the weapon. The Army’s existing carbine requirement assumed use of the M855 ammunition; the weapons tested in the IC competition all fired the next generation M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) currently in fielding. The use of the M855A1 round likely resulted in lower than expected reliability performance. These effects are unique to testing conditions and are not known to affect the reliability of any weapon in the operational environment.

The Army’s decision not to pursue a new carbine competition was reached following careful consideration of the Army’s operational requirements in the context of the available small arms technology, the constrained fiscal environment, and the capability of our current carbines. The Army remains committed to the development of future competitive opportunities that support Army small arms modernization.

50 Responses to “Breaking – Army Concludes Individual Carbine Competition Without Winner – Updated”

  1. charlie says:

    Well, huh. That’s one way to do it.

  2. mcs says:

    Wow, that kinda sounds like they just threw a fit and went home in the face of being told how to do their job.
    Hope they don’t do the same thing to the camo improvement program because of the legislation pending on it.

  3. MattF says:

    I could see a trend developing here:

    Breaking – Army Concludes Camouflage Improvement Effort Competition Without Winner

    All CIE Contenders Fail To Make It Past Phase IV

  4. SMGLee says:

    Why aren’t I surprised.

  5. Will says:

    Smart move by the Army. The M4 and M16A4 are capable weapons platforms. In the world of shrinking budgets it is hard to justify spending millions to find a marginal improvement. Additional expenditure on ammunition, and quality training, would have a more significant impact on the Army’s mission capabilities. Fancy new rifles and 98 rounds per soldier per year is not going to make for a very effective army.

    • Ahab says:

      Exactly. Training, proper maintenance, new mags, better parts replacement schedule.

      • Frank says:

        “Training, proper maintenance, new mags, better parts replacement schedule.”

        I’m not genius, but as an old guy I have seen some history. What we’ll do is keep the AR platform, reduce training, reduce maintenance, keep all the old aluminum mags, and end any parts replacement schedule.

        I make a prediction at least several times a year. The M-16 platform is the last weapon the “United States” Army will ever use. We’re in interesting times right now. It’s obvious that it will get downright exciting soon.

        • Hunter says:

          I’ve been around a while, too, and agree with you, Frank, for the most part. The only area where I differ (slightly) with you is that, short of Earth being obliterated by an asteroid, I’m sure we’ll eventually replace the M16/AR platform — presuming *America* survives, if you get my drift. It may be another 50 years OR MORE before it happens, and the M16/AR “industry” will scream like stuck pigs when it happens… but it will happen. I just think it’ll be too late and, by then, we should be picking something ELSE, rather than what we’ll choose at that time. We just don’t seem to ever learn, historically speaking, where arms and acquisition are concerned.

  6. […] Oh well… Doesn't bode well for the future of some great systems. Breaking ? Army Concludes Individual Carbine Competition Without Winner – Soldier Systems Graphic design and branding. To view links or images in signatures your post count must be […]

  7. Vince says:

    Likely excuse. How convenient.

  8. Max says:

    I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Can I have a laser gun now?

  9. DocGKR says:

    Another Army run weapons programmed run into the ground…

  10. CCH7540 says:

    “The use of the M855A1 round likely resulted in lower than expected reliability performance.” Wow. That’s encouraging. Sounds like the A1 is quite the improvement over the old green tips…

    • Average Joe says:

      I like how they mention the A1 being fielded but throw in “These effects are unique to testing conditions and are not known to affect the reliability of any weapon in the operational environment” Remind me again how a day by day grind in a FOB in Kandahar is not a torture test in itself? SMH

  11. Ben says:

    Funny, I don’t have any issues with 855A1. That being said, I also find it ironic that they will field stuf like the HK 416 and the mark 20 (SCAR) with SF and Civil affairs but it “doesn’t show an improvement” I call bullshit.

    Yes the M4 is reliable, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some glaring issues with the weapons system.

    I think this more has to do with the Army having just
    Bought a few divisions new M4A1’s.

    • Will says:

      How much does a 416 cost compared to an M4? Yes it is marginally better, but what would be the cost for Army, or even SOF wide fielding?
      As for the SCAR, the SCAR H is being fielded, the L, not so much. I’d rather have an M4 than a SCAR L. The SCAR platform has lots of issues as well, issues that would likely receive a lot of heat, should it be wildly fielded. I have shot both, not a fan of the SCAR.

      • Ben says:

        I can’t quote prices off the top of my head (it would be a moot point anyway until you saw the price the Army would chisel out
        Of H&K) but I know they overpay for the M4’s.

        I also have field experience with the SCAR H and
        I can say it’s much more robust that the M4 is.

        It doesn’t really matter anyway, they can buy another 5.56 rifle and they still won’t get the point at the end of the day.

  12. Bob says:

    It’s like SPS, except they’re asking industry to do SPS all over again next week.

  13. Frank says:

    The real tragedy is that these manufacturers are dupes. The Army never intended to field anything new but they constantly put these poor bastards through the trials… although, less and less people are even bothering to “compete”.

    • Stefan S says:

      Brought to you by the same idiots that spent millions of taxpayer’s money on the XM-8 and cancelled it just before adoption. ask Gen. jack Keane about that fiassco!

    • MED says:

      My thoughts exactly Frank. The next competition the Army decides to plow into the ground is likely to have less responding vendors with less innovation. Why would any of these companies continue to dump time money and stressful efforts into progress that goes nowhere – no contracts- just flushed. This decision is cumulatively bad with all the recent similar ones.

      I see a pattern here – Making Sausage….

    • Chicago Steve says:

      I would be careful calling the manufacturer dupes. Most likely they knew it would never get off the ground, but knowing how real world business work, if they elected not to compete in this competition, receiving future contracts would be made significantly harder for them.

  14. Sgt A says:

    If they’re comparing IC2 results with 855A1 against the old results with 855…. then these clowns need to be shown the door.

    That said, the best austerity option really should be gradually phasing in some modular uppers, better lower components, but otherwise keeping the M4. Just create a block II upper (RIS-II handguard, new SDO Optic and M68’s) and running A5 stocks on existing M16’s (to work with body armor) is going to be MUCH cheaper.

  15. This guy says:

    The AR family of weapons is nothing more than a well polished turd. I can’t believe there isn’t a modern day Garand or Browning(the people) walking around out there that could design a better rifle.

    Let’s be honest about the AR. We today are still battling reliability issues under combat conditions that have in one way or another plagued the platform from day one.

    Properly maintained and in the right hands it could work quite well. Unfortunatly your average joe doesn’t have the proper time, patience, or know how to maintain it properly in a combat zone under harsh conditions.

    • Jason says:

      “Properly maintained and in the right hands it could work quite well. Unfortunatly your average joe doesn’t have the proper time, patience, or know how to maintain it properly in a combat zone under harsh conditions.”

      Bullshit. I’ve been deploying continuously since OEF I and in my units, me and my bros have had no problems maintaining our M4’s in actual “combat conditions.” None. Don’t compare us to a bunch of fobbits who go an entire deployment without cleaning or lubing their weapons once, and then wonder why they don’t work when needed.

  16. Angry Misha says:

    Is anyone really surprised? But what shocks me is that these ass clowns forget that they conducted a reliability test that pitted the M4 against the SCAR, HK416 and XM8 during which the M4 failed MISERABLY. AND they published the findings in Army Times!!! (17 December 2007). During said test, they fired 60,000 rounds from ten of each of the systems. The findings speak for themselves:

    XM8: 127 Stoppages
    MK16 SCAR: 226 Stoppages
    HK416: 233 Stoppages
    M4: 882 Stoppages

    In fact, the commander of PEO Soldier (BGEN Mark Brown) called it a “wake up call” and stated: “We take the results of this test with a great deal of interest and seriousness”

    So, I’d be VERY interested to read the debriefs to the offerors, especially HK and FNH’S 

    PEO Soldier, the team that brought you the Soldier Plate Carrier System that didn’t even score in the top three during the Soldier Protection Demo (The MBAV was most desired) and then the Deputy Program Manager (Fred Coppola) went ON THE RECORD in an interview with Army Times (21 December 2009) and stated; “We can’t just go with MBAV because it’s out there and battle-proven”

    • Ken says:

      And 1/4 to 1/2 of those 882 stoppages were magazine related. I know how to maintain my M4 in any environment, thus I have no problem trusting my life to one. No need for the new hotness.

      • Chase says:

        Is there a point where you say its not the magazine?

        • EN says:

          Well, if it’s not the magazine it’s improper maintenance. This is a tried and true formula that’s been working for decades. Unless it causes the death of senior officers, we will not see a replacement in my lifetime.

          • BradKAF308 says:

            During my tour a guy brought his bosses rifle to me saying the mag catch was at fault. I inspected it did some tests and figured his boss just wasn’t used to full mags. I would say lol but it’s sad and scary. I coached him on technec and told him to show his boss. Senior officers…

        • G says:

          I can say from personal experience that my M4 had feeding issues until I spend my own money on a set of PMags instead of continuing to use what looked like they had been first issued in the Vietnam era. After that it preformed perfectly while basic cleaning and using dry lubricant like Tuf-cloths instead of CLP.

          • BradKAF308 says:

            Sounds like a bad supply problem. I’m an armourer, if somebody comes to me and says they have a bad mag I need to tag it so they can exchange I never question it. I would visibly mark the defective mag (with a hammer) so supply couldn’t say no.

      • Angry Misha says:

        Soooo Ken, even if you attribute the stoppages the M4 encountered during the 2006 test to “Magazines” that means it still had 441 to 662 stoppages that were attributed to “Design Flaws”. So, essentially it STILL underperformed SIGNIFCANTLY compared to the other systems (Might I suggest you take some basic math to help you avoid such errors).

        Having carried the M16/M4 for over 17 years to include several combat deployments in varied environments, I two agree that it will work if you maintain it. And trust me, when you’re constantly running a can on one, there’s A LOT of maintaining.

        However, I would rather be equipped with a system that isn’t finicky in regards to magazines which cannot always be swapped out when you’re on the “pointy end of the spear” and won’t “High order detonate” when submerged should I be too preoccupied and forego clearing the bore of water before engageing.

        The end state is that there are better systems. and yes, I know a piton op system is “100 years old” but, as long as we’re using explosive propellant to launch a projectile from a rifle it is the most reliable.

        However, PEO’s motto should be: “If it ain’t broke, fix it until it is”

        I don’t understand how PEO can claim that this is an accuracy issue either. They are asking for 5″ group at 300m. 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 don’t hate the M4, but I’m glad that I have other oiptions in the realm of the SCAR system and HK416.

        • Ken says:

          If you’re going to insult my intelligence, the only reply I have for you is, well, your mother. Also, I could sit here and point out the multitude of grammar errors you have committed in your long-winded reply, but I will not. Oh, sorry.

          Now, congratulations, everything you said me too! Except you have seventeen years to my eight. Anyway, I’m not going to argue further. If you want a system that uses proprietary magazines, or a system that weighs more than it should, by all means, continue to use the SCAR and 416.

    • PMI says:

      “The findings speak for themselves:”
      —Not really when you take into account the previous test under the exact same conditions where the M4 had 296 stoppages & the M-16 had 61.

      Until the Army is able to get consistent results in these tests the data is only of limited use.

  17. Stefan S says:

    So a weapon that is over 50 years old is sufficient? Pinnacle of weapons design? My ass! Wow! if this crowd of armchair Generals and professional liars (politicians) were in charge in the late 50’s We’d still be using the M-1 Garand! Don’t get me wrong the M-4 is a fine weapon, but to be a Kool-Aid drinker that there is nothing better out there makes you look asinine. Guess the evolution of American weapons design will end with the M-4? Put down the crack pipe!

    • Chris says:

      Many of the new “modern” firearm families are nothing more then old designs “tweaked”. Gas piston technology has been around for almost a 100 years.

      Until something like caseless catridges or lasers are fielded (or refined/invented) any new “modern” firearm is redesign of something else. Take for example the SCAR. This in fact nothing more than a combination of points taken from several firearms and put together. It takes an M4 ergonomics, with AK style charging handle and operation.

      The HK416 is simply (though there are other refinements added) is and M4 with a gas piston system. Adopting a new weapon systems is costly (procurement, end user training, spares, spares tracking system which includes new NSN numbers create, supplier documents reviewed, etc, Armorer training, and logistics) the total cost of the program is not just the weapons systems but the complete package. Say base price of $1000 for the weapon, after all the “hidden costs” are added in that maybe anywhere from $3000 – $6000 a weapon, if not higher.

      Now with that said is there options to further redefine the M4? There total is, such as new uppers with gas pistons, gas piston conversion kits. Hell we could even by 416 uppers at the fraction of the cost. But a complete replacement is not worth it at this point. There is nothing that proves to be significant increase in leathality in the 5.56 caliber.

  18. Terry says:

    Is anyone really surprised? The US Army has been doing this for decades…

  19. Mike B. says:

    No surprises here.. again the Army has FAILED it’s soldiers..

  20. Jason says:

    Fantastic choice by the Army. They actually got it right for once.

    If anything, just add a 12″ rail and a mid-length gas system, and call it a day.

  21. Mike B. says:

    Jason, that’s the problem, they will not do this.. I like the M16 family. But there needs to be some corrections made.. We are fighting an enemy that doesn’t care about his buddies, so wounding isn’t an option.. we need something that will kill first shot.. larger calibre.

    • Jason says:

      Nothing kills first shot. Shot placement is what matters, and that’s a training issue that is on you as an individual. I’ll take a lighter weight and faster shooting round over an equipment solution to a training deficiency any day.

  22. Will says:

    Until ammunition changes, there is not anything out there that is significantly better.

    Until we find something better than flinging slugs around, we are at a technological stop point. We can improve ballistics up to a point, but may have to wait until technology finds a new solution.

  23. DatGuy says:

    The reason they don’t have the improvement they are looking for is because they are still looking for an AR style of weapon. If they made the competition open to more innovative designs and styles then we’d see some pretty drastic improvements.

    • Haji says:

      Like what? I’m just trying to see your frame of reference to understand where you’re coming from. Because of my very limited knowledge of this field I don’t know of anything out there that hasn’t been tried and found wanting in various areas.

  24. Alex says:

    For everyone to think about:
    The first branch of service to field the M16 was the Air Force. Understand that, THE AIR FORCE! Not the army, in which they compared it to the M14 during weapon trials and basically said that since there is no wood and made of plastic, it was too radical of a change and that it wouldn’t work. They were traditionalists and still are to this day. They want something like what they already have.
    As for new designs, until we develop a complete new device, we won’t get much besides design tweaks. Caseless ammunition has been around but didn’t catch on. Don’t believe me? Look up the HK G11, design beginning in the late ’60s. Gyrojet type ammuniton never caught on either, too unreliable. Whereas polymer cased ammunition is in development alongside LSAT LMG, but that is moreso that soldiers can carry more rounds. BTW our choice of bullet type (steel core) is not the best on unarmored individuals, it was developed to be used against a conventional military, not guerilla fighters.

    to the guy mentioning the firearms during the 2007 testing:
    XM8 had cooling issues
    HK416 in its LMG version was picked up as the USMCs new squad automatic weapon

    I want to say that the Army will more than likely never be the first to go after a new rifle. They might say they want to develop one, and start one, but never finish it.

  25. T_vegas says:

    WOW! There is a load of Monday morning quarterbacks leaving comments who have no understanding of DOD regulations and congressional law that defines how acquisition programs are to be run and managed..and by the way, just because someone feels that weapon “A” is better than weapon “B” does not meet the requirement and intent of the law…The IC competition was “caliber non-specific, caliber undefined” which means “the Army is looking for the best replacement carbine” and is not just looking for a 5.56mm weapon..industry stayed home and ALL bid samples submitted were M4 clones..
    I was involved when bid samples were delivered and training by the OEM was conducted. As it is my job to develop the support structure for an item under consideration, my first question to the OEMs was “What has been done to improve your weapon to meet the intent of the proposal requirements, known as “threshold and objectives” for reliability, maintainability and accuracy?” Nearly every manufacturer responded with ” we improved the butt stock and hand grips, we provided better “enhanced” Picatinny rails, and have moved to a piston based operating system system”. First, as someone above stated “a piston operating system has been around for a long time” – TRUE..problem is you just added about a dozen more parts to the weapon which by the way many are “moving parts” such as rods, springs, and the piston assembly itself, which in turn adds more maintenance, more parts to break, and more time to conduct dis-assembly and re-assembly of the weapons during routine PMCS and with more parts added we will see an increase in maintenance induced failures, lost parts and more work for the entire weapons support system. Secondly- the talk about the M16 and M14 have missed the point, the M16/M14s are “Battle Riffles” we are looking for a carbine. Guys remember the M16/M14 series weapons were developed to fill the “combat” environment of the cold war and Viet Nam, the world has changed and the combat environment has gone from open field combat to urban house to house fighting..those weapons were intended to reach out and touch the enemy at longer range, a whole different threat scenario than what we are faced with today.. So if you think the Army is playing a game with Soldier equipment you are very wrong! We at PM-Soldier Weapons must follow the laws and acquistion regulations and if the candidates don’t offer a marked improvement across the board would you buy it? No? The Army has asked industry to “show me the beef” and we ended up with turkeys..