Marine Corps Getting More M27 Rifles to Partially Replace M4s
The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) announced on Friday that they will be purchasing up to 15,000 M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles (IAR) and spare parts from Heckler and Koch (H&K) in Ashburn, Virginia, under a five-year, firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract with a maximum ceiling of $29.4 million.
The M27 IAR is a lightweight, air-cooled, gas piston, shoulder-fired weapon that the service initially fielded to replace the heavier, belt-fed M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. The M27 currently serves as the automatic fire weapon system in infantry, reconnaissance and light armored reconnaissance units following selection of the company to supply 6,500 rifles, based a full and open competition in 2008. Fielding of these rifles occurred between 2010 and 2013.
To expand the capability, the service released a Request for Information in February 2017 to determine whether the industry could supply comparable IAR capabilities for the entire infantry rifle squad. After receiving industry price estimates, however, the USMC determined that a competition to purchase M27 IARs from a new commercial vendor “would cause substantial and unavoidable cost duplications and unacceptable delays in fulfilling the agency’s needs,” program officials said. After issuing a justification and approval document in July 2017, the service said it would continue to purchase the M27 IAR from H&K.
Under the new contract, the Marines will initially purchase 5,650 M27 rifles under the first delivery order, at an average cost of approximately $1,300 per weapon system and support equipment. As such, $7.4 million was obligated immediately following the contract award. Until recently, procurement regulations restricted the disclosure of pricing details, USMC officials said.
The additional M27 IARs will partially replace the current M4 carbine semi-automatic rifle, program officials said. Unlike the M4, the M27 IAR is a fully automatic rifle that provides a higher volume of fire. It also features a free-floating barrel design for better accuracy, the USMC noted.
“Since the M27 has been fielded, it has proven to be extremely reliable, durable and accurate,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joel Schwendinger, USMC, Combat Development and Integration Gunner. “The Marine Corps Operating Concept describes a future where units will be operating with greater dispersion and experiments, such as the Sea Dragon 2025 Exercise, and identifies the need for increased lethality in Marine rifle platoons and squads. The M27 provides the Corps with the necessary increase in lethality, unlike other infantry specialties that primarily fight with crew-served weapons, such as mortars and machine guns, rifle platoons primarily fight with rifles, and the M27 has proven to be the best overall fighting rifle.”
The service will begin fielding additional M27 rifles to active and reserve infantry platoons in early 2019, according to the USMC.