Germany’s Next Assault Rifle: More Details On The Future Deliveries

    The German Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg) have revealed further details on the tender as well as the future timeline for the procurement of the Bundeswehr’s next service rifle system.

    Almost a year ago, in November 2019, the benchmark testing between the submitted firearms ended.

    There were three different types of firearms submitted from two suppliers: The HK416 (Heckler & Koch), the HK433 (Heckler & Koch) and the MK 556 (C.G. Haenel). They all successfully passed the comparison tests.

    Picture from C.G Haenel

    In July 2020 the “best and final offers” were submitted by the suppliers, and if things weren’t nervous before I’m sure it must have been an interesting summer for the management and sales people in this all-or-nothing business.

    On the 14th September TFB reported that C.G. Haenel MK556 had won the German Army tender to replace the G36, and the day after it was confirmed by the German Ministry of Defence. 

    As anyone would expect an enormous tender like this is never going to be a simple business and every action has a reaction. One step forward may lead to two backwards. When I have discussed this with various people we concluded that it will take many years before the German soldiers will see their G36 replacement, and that it may not be the Haenel MK 556 after all.

    One of many variants of the Heckler & Koch G36. (Heckler & Koch)

    Heckler & Koch responded quickly to the selection of Haenel’s MK556 and announced that they will examine what legal steps they can take. The decision of the contract awarding is still subject to a possible complaint and judicial review proceedings.

    Heckler & Koch HK416. Picture by Heckler & Koch.

    The deadline for a possible complaint expires very soon, so don’t be surprised if there are more news about this in just a few days time.

    It also has to be mentioned that C.G. Haenel did an official statement as well. The bottom line was that the MK556 is 90% Made in Germany.

    The current schedule is that the German Parliament is to consider the project at the end of 2020. No delivery contract can be signed with Haenel (or anyone else) before then.

    Currently the procurement plan is for a total of 118,718 assault rifles, in the period from 2023 to 2026 and onwards. The procurement of the Bundeswehr assault rifle system is planned to be done in four separate lots.

    a) Basic weapon with accessories.

    b) Optics for proficiency levels 1-2.

    c) Optics for proficiency levels 3.

    d) Laser Light Module.

    The supply of weapons is planned as follows :

    2021 390 Test samples.
    2022 0
    2023 13,300
    2024 20,000
    2025 20,000
    2026 65.028

    Heckler & Koch HK416 (Heckler & Koch)

    Overall, I think most people are surprised with the current outcome. Part of me is sorry that the HK433 wasn’t chosen, as it would have been interesting to follow its path. Part of me is wondering why the German Armed Forces didn’t take the opportunity to standardize their assault rifle with their own Special Forces, the French Army and other NATO countries and select the HK416?

    Regardless, what is the final outcome of this, it will likely take many years before the German Soldiers get their new firearm.

    Source: S&T – Soldat und Technik / Mr. Waldemar Geiger (German).

    Eric B

    Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with a European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatics, optics and sound suppressors. TCCC Certified medic.