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.