The US effort to procure a new handgun design is cursed, it seems. KitUp reports:
The U.S. Army’s effort to replace its M9 9mm pistol with a new Modular Handgun System may be facing another hurdle now that lawmakers in the House want to kill the service’s $5.4 million fiscal 2016 budget request.
The language in the House Chairman’s mark-up of the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Bill comes three months after the Army announced it was delaying the MHS competition in late January.
The program would replace the 30-year-old M9, made by Beretta USA, with a more-powerful, modern handgun. The Army began working with the small arms industry on MHS in early 2013, but the effort has been in the works for more than five years.
The effort to replace the M9 could result in the Defense Department buying 500,000 new pistols during a period of significant defense-spending reductions.
The Army’s decision to delay the launch of the MHS competition followed a Military.com report about the December decision of the service’s Configuration Control Board to deny Beretta USA’s submission of a modernized version of the M9 pistol, the M9A3, as a cost-saving alternative to MHS.
Beretta unveiled its M9A3 in December as an engineering change proposal to the current M9 contract. The improved M9 features new sights, a rail for mounting lights and accessories, better ergonomics and improved reliability, according to Beretta USA officials.
The Army formally rejected the M9A3 proposal in a Jan. 29 letter because it went beyond what a traditional ECP is supposed to do. As a result, Army officials said they could not alter the original M9 contract and the M9A3 would have to be submitted as a brand new pistol, the source familiar with the letter said.
The service decided to delay the MHS program to give Army weapon officials time to improve the formal request for proposal to the small arms industry, according to Army officials.
This news comes after the Army delayed the MHS program competition, back in January:
Army contracting officials released a Jan. 12 special notice on FedBizOpps.gov, announcing the delay of the final Request for Proposals for MHS.
“The purpose of this special notice is to advise interested vendors that the release of the Modular Handgun System (MHS) Request for Proposals (RFP) will not occur in January 2015 as previously stated at the last Industry Day,” the notice states.
The announcement follows a Military.com report about the December decision of the service’s Configuration Control Board to deny Beretta USA’s submission of a modernized version of the M9 pistol, the M9A3, as an alternative to MHS.
The M9, made by Beretta USA, was adopted by the U.S. military in 1985. The effort to replace the M9 could result in the Defense Department buying 500,000 new pistols during a period of significant defense-spending reductions.
MHS is set to cost at least $350 million and potentially millions more if it results in the selection of a more potent pistol caliber, sources said.
We first covered the Army’s Modular Handgun System program back in July of last year. In December, I posted a short overview and exposition on the program for our readers. US Army handgun replacement programs seem doomed to remain in the military acquisition program equivalent of “development hell”, where they continue at a slow place and on a low budget, getting repeatedly cancelled and then re-named until they either eventually bear fruit or don’t. Given the age of the Beretta handgun and the advances made in handguns since it was designed, I hope MHS is the last step towards final acquisition, but only time will tell.