Update on the IAR competition

    A couple of days ago I blogged about H&K winning the USMC’s IAR competition. There has been much confusion regarding the IAR competition since then.

    Dan Lamothe, who broke the news, updated his The Marine Times article and added that it now appears that the H&K IAR has not officially won but is the frontrunner

    With several months of testing ahead, the decision isn’t considered final, but it makes the H&K model the clear front-runner in the competition.

    The Corps will now put H&K IAR through five months of testing beginning in January and taking place in locations ranging from Panama to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center and Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in California, Eby said. The Corps has ordered 24 H&K IARs for testing, said Capt. Geraldine Care

    Rob Curtis who blogs at GearScout (also part of the Military Times) wrote that the DoD appear to done a downselect, rather than awarding H&K an outright win …

    From what we understand, this is actually a downselect to just one system as opposed to a contract win

    Dan send me an email regarding my previous comments on the supposed weight of the H&K IAR, which is almost identical to the standard HK416 carbine. He sent me the spec document which H&K provided him with. It does indeed list the weight as just 7.9 lbs!

    Daniel E. Watters wrote that he suspects that the Marine command may have been framing the IAR as a partial M249 replacement but in reality they may have just wanted a piston operated full-auto carbine. By procuring what is sold as a new class of weapon they could sidestep the inter-service politics and bureaucracy …

    The weird thing is that the HK416 IAR is roughly the same weight as the M16A4, if not lighter when the latter is fitted with the M5 ARS. I’m certain that someone in Congress will ultimately ask what the HK416 can do that their issue M16A4 retrofitted with full-auto trigger groups can’t.

    Like others have mentioned, I can’t help but wonder if the USMC didn’t game the IAR requirements so that a basic carbine could win instead of a HBAR. The idea would be to gradually increase the number of IAR issued so that they could later justify standardizing on it to replace not just the infantry squad’s M249, but their M16A4 and M4 as well. By framing it as a service-specific supplement to their M249, they skirted the need to argue with the other service branches over a set of joint requirements.

    As for winning the contract, everyone needs to remember that Colt, FN, and HK were already awarded Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contracts for their IAR last year. An IDIQ contract guarantees the awardee that they will have a specific minimum of items ordered, with the possibility of additional orders up to a specific maximum. There is no guarantee that more than the stated minimum will ever be ordered. I’ve long suspected that contracting officers have been purposefully making multiple awards of IDIQ contracts prior to a final downselect in order to head off potential award protests by the disgruntled losers. It is my understanding that by accepting their IDIQ award, the contractor only has grounds to protest if the guaranteed minimum has not ordered before the end of the contract. They cannot protest that they did not receive additional orders in excess of the guaranteed minimum.

    Make of all this information as you will. All I know is that DoD procurement was never designed to be understood by a mere mortal such as myself!

    Steve Johnson

    I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!