Marine Corps Systems Command have confirmed the signing of a five year, ‘firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract’ worth $30 million. In a USMC press release Corps officials confirmed that “the additional M27 IARs will partially replace the current M4 carbine semi-automatic rifle.”
The confirmation of the contract follows our earlier reports that the Corps was moving to make a major purchase of M27s. The contract for 15,000 M27s and accompanying spare parts is worth a maximum of $29.4 million. The first order will be worth $7.4 million and will total 5,650 rifles giving an approximate per rifle cost of $1,300.
The official contract award notice states that 70% of the contract work will be performed at Oberndorf, Germany while 20% will be carried out Columbus, Georgia and a further 10% at Ashburn, Virginia. The contract is expected to be complete by 30 April, 2023.
The signing of the contract is part of the Marine Corps apparent effort to simplify the small arms platforms used by its rifle squads. Issuing the M27 as an Infantry Automatic Rifle, a designated marksman rifle (the M38) and now increasingly as the Marine rifleman’s service rifle.
Marine with M27 IAR during various courses of fire at Camp Wilson, in January 2015 (USMC/Lance Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson)
The Corps’ press release explains that prices from the industry we’re solicited and that purchasing more M27s from Heckler & Koch was more cost effective based on unit price estimates, the costs associated with testing and evaluations and the number of interested vendors. The press release states:
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.
Marine with M27 during a live-fire weapons exercise at Camp Lejeune, in Dec. 2017 (USMC/Lance Cpl. Michaela R. Gregory)
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joel Schwendinger, Combat Development and Integration Gunner, said that the M27 provides an increased lethality which had been identified during numerous exercises and experiments. Schwendinger said that:
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.
The Corps will begin fielding the new additional M27s with active and reserve infantry platoons in early 2019. With Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Salmons, Plans, Policies and Operations Gunner, adding that “the fielding of additional M27s will provide an immediate increase in overall combat capability for both current and future operating environments.”
USMC press release can be found in full here and the contract award notice here.