Rest in Peace Interim Combat Service Rifle, we hardly knew thee. The Army’s ICSR program has joined the much more ambitious Advanced Combat Rifle program of the 1980s and the more recent ill-fated Individual Carbine program in the annals of US Army rifle procurement history.
The official cancellation notice was posted on FedBizOps on 28 November:
This notice is to inform interested parties of the cancellation of the Commercial Opportunity Notice (CON) for the Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR), under CON W15QKN-17-Z-0ANP due to a reprioritization of funding previously allocated for the ICSR.
Resulting from a change in strategy, the Government is reallocating the ICSR funding to the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW). The NGSW will be a long term solution to meet the identified capability gap instead of the ICSR, which was an interim solution.
It is requested that Offerors who have submitted bid samples under CON W15QKN-17-Z-0ANP contact below referenced Government point of contact (POC) for the return of their bid sample(s). Requests for Bid Sample returns will be processed as they are received and should begin to ship no earlier than mid-January 2018.
The Interim Combat Service Rifle, chambered in 7.62x51mm, was planned to replace the M4. Announced back in June 2017, the Army released a series of detailed Requests for Information (RFIs) from manufacturers for a Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) system that would be able to defeat increasingly prevalent ceramic body armour and provide ‘overmatch’ capability to engage targets at greater ranges than the 5.56x45mm M16/M4 platform.
Our very own Nathaniel F has led the charge on covering the abortive ICSR, identifying some key questions about its aims early on. In September it emerged that the ICSR development program was dead in the water, axed in a massive review of the US Army’s current small arms programs. Officially announced just a month earlier, the new 7.62 rifle was unceremoniously dropped with official confirmation emerging two months later. The ICSR’s demise heralded what has been claimed to be a new era of US Army procurement with Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley announcing a major overhaul with a new Futures & Modernization Command.
The news of the cancellation of the ICSR’ Commercial Opportunity Notice is couched with the suggestion that the funding will be reallocated to the more long term Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW), which has just released an updated project notice and announced an Industry Day. The NGSW won’t be an ‘off the shelf’ option, instead it represents a transformative development in small arms technology with Milley claiming that the next-generation individual and squad combat weapons will be a “10x improvement over any existing current system in the world.” As such the program is likely to take years as the near-term funding allocated by the Department of Defence to the ICSR cannot be readily transferred to the Army’s next great hope. In the meantime, the king is dead, long live the king.