A couple of weeks ago at the NDIA Joint Armaments Conference Brigadier General Michael M. Brogan revealed that Marine Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) had been given the designation “M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle”.
I visually inspected the H&K IAR which was on display at SHOT Show and the only difference I noticed between it and the standard H&K 416 was a slightly heavier barrel profile compared to the standard M4-style barrel with its grenade launcher cutouts. It has a bayonet lug attached to the barrel which is something I have not seen before in H&K 416 marketing material.
The Marine command touted this project as the development of a new class of weapon. I have gotten the impression that in reality they wanted a new carbine but did not want to deal with DoD and Congress politics to get it. The Army is already looking into developing a new carbine and the USMC would have been hard pressed to persuade the powers-that-be to give them funding for their own independent carbine project.
[ Many thanks to Nathaniel for sending me info on the M27. ]