US Army Developed Ironman Ammo Pack Costs More Than Commercial Version It Emulates

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 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?


44 Responses to “US Army Developed Ironman Ammo Pack Costs More Than Commercial Version It Emulates”

  1. Will says:

    The Ironman system costs over $4000 a pop? Does it weight over 16 lbs a pop?

    The Tyr model appears to be on a MR Nice frame ($300, 4.6lb), I would think with modern plastics you could make the rest of it for less than $3600 and 11.4lb.

    • SSD says:

      The feed chute is very expensive. TYR’s come from the M134. Their canister is carbon fiber.

      • Jeremy says:

        From looking at TYR ‘ s website, it looks like they use the GSI flex chute. Which is way lighter, more durable, and feeds more reliably than the old school chute the Iron Man uses. Worth every penny IMHO.

        • Mike D says:

          I have no experience with the GSI chute, but noble makes a far more reliable chute than the standard chute.

          • Jeremy says:

            I’ve shot all 3, and prefer the GSI, as long as you have a good cover / tape job to keep links and debris out. You can literally tie them in a knot, and not jam a mini. The Noble is a great chute as well.

  2. FHRITP says:

    Im ron burgundy?

  3. Mick says:

    NSW has used the “Predator Packs” , with varying success, for a couple decades. Some local fabrications, some pushed down.

  4. Angry Misha says:

    SSD, I think you’re being a bit unfair to the PEO here. First off, as you said, this isn’t a new idea and aside from the China Lake piece, who hasn’t seen “Predator”? So, now that we’ve put any assumptions that this was Tyr’s IP to rest, let’s look at the timeline.

    Prototypes in 45 days and OT in two years?! That’s light speed for something that wasn’t a USON. But even if it WAS a USON, they’d still need to release an RFI (45 days) then if ONLY Tyr responded, you’re looking at another 45-60 days of contracting actions, then you’ll need to do some user evals (tack on another 9 months), then you need to get the tech manuals reviewed and approved, and another 6 months of “yadda yadda yadda”. But then, it wouldn’t be sustainable now would it? So, while I do believe that the PEO has a ton of “Duh” moments, this isn’t one of them and the blame can be laid at the FARs feet.

    • SSD says:

      First off, let’s leave the PEO out of this one. They do plenty but this isn’t at their feet.

      First off, it wasn’t done the way you describe. I’d buy your argument that it should have taken all kinds of time if RFI hadn’t bought so many commercially available technologies right off the shelf, and if the units that had been fielded Ironman weren’t turning around and buying MICO’s directly from TYR. I’m by no means claiming that this is TYR’s IP and I know they aren’t either. This is just an example of the government doing something it shouldn’t. Ironman was is a big fail.

  5. SeanL says:

    Should’ve renamed Scorpion v2 “Ironman Camo.”

  6. Kaos-1 says:

    So that’s where all the money from the “improved carbine competition” and the “camo pattern competition” went to, building this stupid shit. Way to go ARMY. Lmfao

  7. Matt says:

    Ok I’ll help clear some things up here.
    1. TYR’s Mico was not but to answer a requirement and it was built in 2010
    2. Understanding that China lake built a few test units that went to SEAL Team and MACV SOG in Vietnam they did have several issues. In the mid 80’s-90’s Seal Team worked with a couple different companies to develop a better functioning unit (easily identified by the feed chute comming out the center of the pack). Non ever saw much success due to the week feeding
    Mechanism of the M60.
    3. The feed chute,ammo box,and pack system are all custom built the only G.I part is the. Chute attachment to the weapon.
    4. How do I know this you might ask? Well it was my baby when I worked there. 😉

    • Eddie says:

      I thought the frame, shoulder pads, and hip belt were essentially just the base for the Medium OCP rucksack? Wouldn’t that bring it down just a little coming from an existing platform? I know the first Ironman model constructed took the MOLLE II frame, shoulder pads, and belt as the base for it. Guessing they needed NSN specific parts for this pack specifically? Please feel free to enlighten me, not quite in the military as of yet, still learning. XD

  8. Jesse says:

    Can’t wait to see the total cost breakdown a Iron Man in Scorpion 2 vs. Tyr’s MSRP for a MICO in MultiCam.

  9. See Bowl says:

    I have fired the mico once before that was adapted for a HK21. It was very light weight and balanced very well on my back, considering the amount of ammo it held. It also flew through the ammo with zero issues. I was a forward observer for years and ended up being a SAW gunner for my team. Ammo, batteries, radios, water, etc was always a issue. I would have KILLED to have the mico pack back then. Based off my limited time with it, it seemed like a very high quality piece of kit. Everything I have ever used from TYR Tactical has been great. I don’t see them putting anything of low quality out on the market. Just my two cents.

  10. paul says:

    Seems like a similar situation with the KDH soldier plate carrier (army developed) vs the Eagle mbav (already in the system).

    it’s disappointing when you see the cost of the either/any unit vs using whats available.

    • SSD says:

      The KDH Plate Carrier was developed by KDH and not the Army. It was a finalist in SPD as was the Eagle carrier and in the end, the Army selected the KDH carrier.

  11. Mick says:

    Yeah, no.. not really in “the article”. You showed a top feed POS that doesn’t work, from Crane. Bottom feed Team level produced “Pred Packs” worked.

    Of course the Army reproduced a failed product, shocking…

  12. Jack says:

    A stupid decision by the US military.Is anyone surprised?These are the same jokers that delayed the adoption of the intermediate cartridge for everyone else.

    I can think of a few reasons why they went with this route and all of none of them makes any sense from a business standpoint.

  13. Jon says:

    Who cares? If you’re a grunt you know that you that a machine gun TEAM is far more important than having some idiot spray 500 rounds from the hip as a “240 gunner” (like a 203/320 gunner or SAW gunner?). So much wrongness comes along with this concept. Train the fundamentals of machine gun theory and drill a team to be the full awesomeness. Leave belt-feeding packs for swoopie peeps that don’t have to grunt it out.

    • See Bowl says:

      You sir, have never been in real fire fight… I have never been in an engagement and thought I had to much ammo. If a fire team all had packs they would be that much more lethal for longer periods of time. But thank you for making a school house comment.

      • Mac says:

        Yes, because more ammo is always superior to dominant position….

        Saying someone’s never been in a real fire fight because you don’t understand what they’re saying is pretty ignorant. He’s not talking about taking ammo away from gun teams. He’s talking about proper employment of gun teams.

        “Accuracy by volume” is an assinine concept that is applicable in a very limited range of circumstances, like react to contact (specifically ambushes), or initiating an ambush. Just because you feel the need to carry more, doesn’t mean the rest of us do. I remember Paul Howe saying he felt that anything over 8 mags was purely psychological comfort. Guess he hasn’t been in a real gunfight either? I also remember hearing a man who fought his way up Taku Ghar mention that he carried drastically less ammo these days so he could maneuver more easily.
        Different people, different experiences, different lessons learned.

        • See Bowl says:

          Good points. I agree with you totally. Accuracy is very important, machine gun theory is also important study. In most limited time frame engagements I believe this is the deciding factor. I still believe that proper usage of a support by fire element is key. This means lots of different things…location, cone of fire placement, ammo usage and type, etc. I believe there is a big difference between a rifleman with a AR and a machine gunner with a 240. Comparing their load outs and employment will be very different.

          If accuracy was the only deciding factor, then why do gun trucks carry thousands of rounds? Again, different weapons have different roles. Saying “who cares” about ammo amounts seems like a low bid thing to say. I have heard this statement before in military courses. And It always hits a sore point with me based on my experiences.

          I also agree with you that each person has their own experiences, so who am I to judge. Lesson learned on my part. Thank you.

          • Mac says:

            Gun trucks having thousands of rounds is an easy multi-part answer. First, because they can, plain and simple. A vehicle simply does not fatigue like a soldier on foot and has a much stronger structure. Second, we still operate under the idea of a simple patrol turning into a multi day sustained operation. Get into multiple contacts and the need for those rounds when using vehicles as mobile support by fire platforms becomes apparent. Third and final reason off the top of my head is the same reason the vehicles carry more water and food than the crew would need-sustainment of their dismounted elements. I’ve never seen anything that said you couldn’t top off a gun from a vehicles additional ammunition. Obviously you wouldn’t want to do it if they’re low on ammo too, but it can be done, just like water and chow.
            Suppressive fire is one thing, far too often I’ve heard it basically turned into just putting enough rounds out there that you eventually connect by laws of probability (which is what I associate accuracy by volume with).

      • Jon says:

        Fire fight? I peed on a campfire once, does that count?

  14. jjj0309 says:

    Army screwed up, again?
    Not big surprise.

  15. Norbis says:

    Think about how much better an OER comment looks; finding somethting COTS or being PM of developing a “new” warfighter capability.

  16. Patrick says:

    I think the real question is that while wearing this, will you have time to bleed?.

    • Steve says:

      ^^^This!!! +10000!!! Lolz

    • mike says:

      Sexual Tyrannosaurus. Dug in like an Alabama Tick. You lose it here and you’re in a world of hurt. WTF? Slack-jawed Faggots. Payback time. Etc.

      I kept realizing the quotes I was trying to get out of the way were from the MSTK/Rifftrax guys and didn’t really count.

  17. Keld says:

    Hah! We ran a system out of an old ALICE pack and a tank MG feed chute to an M/62 MG (Recalibered 7.62mm MG42) in our unit at one point in the ’90’s.
    Would love to have had a proper dedicated system instead of our home brewed one.

  18. tom says:

    we had one of these made at a location i was at. not quite the same thing tho. alice pack frame, sheet metal can with a baffle in the center to help feeding and keeping the form of the can. no feed chute, and fed from the top like a normal can. held 800 rds, and was pretty sweet. it was not meant for use while on the move, it sat in our QRF vehicle with a MK48. you could jock up with the ammo ruck and move to key terrain, put it down and then you had 800 rds to suppress the enemy, then switch bag to the nut sack to move back to vehicle. it worked great. had a similar pack for 40mm to so a small element could lay down max heat.

  19. Riceball says:

    Sounds like to me that combined with the whole Scorpion debacle the Army is trying to get out of having pay any outside company for a product regardless if the COTS is cheaper/better. If this is the case then the Army might be best served if they just developed their own R&D capability and design everything in house and only outsource the actual manufacturing.

  20. WE_BE_KILLING_UM says:

    Some one has been watching too much Jessie Ventura

  21. Aaron says:

    There was a reason why certain companies didn’t attend the Jungle Symposium in Hawaii a few weeks ago. A lot of it had to do with the fact the PEO was there. Just Sayin’