MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
The Marine Corps has awarded a five-year, firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract with a maximum ceiling of $29.4 million for the procurement of up to 15,000 M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles (IAR) and spare parts. Under the terms of the first delivery order, $7.4 million was obligated immediately following contract award to Heckler and Koch in Ashburn, Virginia, for 5,650 M27 rifles, for an average cost of approximately $1,300 per weapon system and support equipment. Until the recent award, procurement integrity laws and regulations have restricted pricing details from disclosure.
The additional M27 IARs will partially replace the current M4 carbine semi-automatic rifle, program officials said.
The M27 IAR is a lightweight, air-cooled, gas piston, shoulder-fired weapon the Marine Corps initially fielded to replace the heavier, belt-fed M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. It currently serves as the automatic fire weapon system in infantry, reconnaissance, and light armored reconnaissance units.
In 2008, the Marine Corps selected H&K to procure 6,500 rifles, following a full and open competition. Fielding of these rifles occurred between 2010 and 2013.
To expand the capability, in February 2017 the Marine Corps released an open Request for Information to determine whether industry could supply comparable IAR capabilities for the entire infantry rifle squad. Having received industry price estimates for potential rifles and associated components, the Marine Corps determined that a competition to purchase M27 IARs from a new commercial vendor, whether international or domestic, would cause substantial and unavoidable cost duplications and unacceptable delays in fulfilling the agency’s needs.
These cost duplications and time delays are itemized and depicted in a Justification and Approval document signed by Marine Corps Systems Command’s Executive Director in July 2017. The J&A was based on unit price estimates, the costs associated with repeated test events, and the number of interested vendors.
Federal laws and regulations enable agencies to forgo open competitions on these basis, therefore, program officials from Marine Corps Systems Command determined the Corps would continue to purchase the M27 IAR from H&K.
Unlike the M4, the M27 IAR is fully automatic to provide a higher volume of fire. It also features a free-floating barrel design for better accuracy.
“Since the M27 has been fielded, it has proven to be extremely reliable, durable, and accurate,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joel Schwendinger, Combat Development and Integration Gunner.
“The Marine Corps Operating Concept describes a future where units will be operating with greater dispersion and experiments such as the [Sea Dragon 2025 Exercise] identified the need for increased lethality in Marine rifle platoons and squads,” he said. “The M27 provides the Corps with the necessary increase in lethality. Unlike other infantry specialties that primarily fight with crew-served weapons such as mortars and machine guns, rifle platoons primarily fight with rifles, and the M27 has proven to be the best overall fighting rifle.”
Positive data and feedback from Marines using the M27s in experiments over the last year influenced the Marine Corps’ decision to expand fielding, Schwendinger said.
The Marine Corps will field the additional M27 rifles to active and reserve infantry platoons beginning in early 2019.
“The fielding of additional M27s will provide an immediate increase in overall combat capability for both current and future operating environments,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Salmons, Plans, Policies and Operations Gunner.