Bundeswehr Set To Procure G36 Replacement, WeaponsMan Tells Us Where Things Stand

    Deutschsprachiger Hognose, author of the excellent blog at WeaponsMan.com and who has been following the unfolding G36 controversy closely, recently wrote an excellent “roundup” article on the situation of the German infantry rifle as it now stands. The Defense Ministry just last week released a Prior Information Notice for modern infantry rifles, a precursor to a tender, and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced back in April that the G36 “had no future with the Bundeswehr”. This implies that the G36 will be replaced by some as-yet undetermined rifle “as soon as possible”. On that subject, Hognose wrote:

    The G36 is the standard service rifle of the German Armed Forces, as it has been for about 20 years. But the Bundeswehr has announced that it’s now on the way out, and a solicitation for replacements is out — to all European manufacturers, not just German ones.

    End of Life: Always controversial, the G36 is scheduled to be replaced by a new rifle, to be selected in a process that will probably be just as spectacularly controversial.

    Early this morning, commenter “Tobse” flagged us to this article in the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s most-circulated newspapers), noting that the decision to replace the G36 had been made. Here’s our translation of the first grafs of FAZ political correspondent, Johannes Leithäuser’s, article, The G36 Assault Rifle is being Mustered Out:

    “Defense minister Ursula von der Leyen made it known back in March that scientific tests of the G 36 had revealed an accuracy problem at high temperatures. A month later, the Minister announced that the standard troop rifle had ” no future in its current form” in the Bundeswehr

    “While the Ministry set up and tasked numerous commissions with the questions of: whether soldiers had been injured or killed in action because of faulty weapons; whether the manufacturing firm Heckler & Koch had too tight connections to the Ordnance Department of the Ministry; and whether the Ministry took too long to react to reports of the deficiencies — while, then, a great deal of attention was focused on working out questions about the past — the military leadership was working on a solicitation for a new weapon.”

    You may read the article in German here or a dread Google robotranslation here.

    The key points of the article are drawn from this solicitation. They are:

    1. The BW won’t really get the new rifle until the 2020s.
    2. The solicitation is Europe-wide. Sorry ’bout that, Colt, LMT, etc. (Also, sorry ’bout that, HK. You’re going to have to compete with everybody, including those Polish rifles we saw this morning).
    3. The solicitation seems biased towards current production, COTS rifles, as the Ministry feels that only with such a head start can they hope to make a 2019 fielding of test units and 2020s for quantity production.
    4. In the light of the problems with the G36, there are specific environmental requirements for the new rifle’s accuracy (including in automatic fire) and its polymer parts.
    5. The various German (i.e., HK) and foreign weapons used as controls in the tests that exposed the G36 overheating problems were all better than the G36 at that, and sometimes at something else, but they all had disadvantages relative to the G36, such that none of them seems superior all-round.

    I highly recommend our readers click through and read the whole thing.

    We have covered the G36 controversy extensively, beginning as things began to heat up, the release of a damning report by the Ernst Mach Institute, H&K’s defense, the German Defense Minister’s condemnation of the rifle, the cover-up scandal, to Lithuania’s withdrawal from G36 procurement. We even tested a G36 for ourselves, to see if we could replicate the accuracy issues.

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]