The United States Marine Corps has issued a new acquisition notice for up to 50,814 M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles (IAR), to be sole sourced from Heckler & Koch. The notice is technically not a solicitation in and of itself, but a pre-solicitation notice, intended to give other companies the chance to submit their own proposals or bids if they think they can meet the same need at a lower cost. From the solication:
This notice of intent is not a request for competitive proposals. However, any responsible source who believes it is capable of meeting the requirement may submit a capability statement, proposal, or quotation, which shall be considered by the agency, only if received by the closing date and time of this notice. A determination not to compete the proposed requirement based upon the responses to this notice is solely within the discretion of the Government.
It is not yet known exactly what model will be procured under this contract. Since the delivery of the original M27 IAR, Heckler & Koch has produced a number of improved models of the HK416 rifle upon which the M27 is based. These models feature substantial differences from the original, for example an entirely new (and more industry standard) lower forging in the HK416A5. Whichever weapon these second batch M27s will be based upon, they will surely retain the same salient aspects of the original M27, including its heavy barrel and GI bayonet lug mount.
This news follows Marine Corps evaluations of the M27 IAR as a standard issue infantry rifle, issued to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, as well as the release of an RFI for 11,000 new IARs. This new acquisition notice will no doubt raise further speculation that the Marine Corps is preparing to “pure-fleet” the M27 in replacement of the M4 Carbine, even as the Army is pursuing a new 7.62mm select fire rifle.