Army Cancels Carbine Competition When No Rifles Pass Muster (UPDATED)

By Dan Parsons

The Army has discontinued its three-year search for an M4 carbine replacement, officials announced June 13.

Of eight candidates, “none of the carbines evaluated during the testing phase of the competition met the minimum scoring requirement needed to continue to the next phase of the evaluation,” Debi Dawson, a spokeswoman for Program Executive Office Soldier, said in a prepared statement.

Instead of launching a new search for what would have been called the “individual carbine,” the Army plans to continue fielding the M4A1 carbine, “which consistently performs well and has received high marks from soldiers,” Dawson said. PEO Soldier has scheduled a press conference June 14 to discuss the decision.

The M4A1 has a heavier barrel and a full-auto setting rather than the three-round burst setting on the M4. The Army’s 2014 budget request includes plans to purchase 12,000 M4A1 carbines for just over $21 million.

The Army already had completed phase two of the competition, which began in 2011. That phase involved thousands of rounds being pumped through each rifle design to test durability, reliability and accuracy. Plans were to select up to three carbines for the third and final phase that would have involved hundreds of thousands of rounds fired and field-testing by soldiers.

The rifles that were competing to replace the M4 were the Adcor Defense BEAR Elite, the Colt ACC-M (sometimes called the ACM), the FN FNAC, the Heckler & Koch HK416 and the Remington ACR.

The ARX160 rifle made by Beretta USA Corp. was also a candidate, along with submissions from Troy Defense and Lewis Machine and Tool.

Phase two resulted in none of the competitors showing a “significant improvement in weapon reliability” over the M4, as measured by rounds fired without jamming, according to the statement.

After phase three, an analysis of alternatives was planned to determine if any of the new carbines provide enhanced capabilities that would justify the $1.8 billion planned investment to replace the M4.

Dawson said the decision to conclude the competition is “consistent” with recent testimony by the Department of Defense Inspector General before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that included concerns  over the need for replacing the Army’s current arms.

“We expect to report concerns that DoD may not have an established need for this weapon nor developed performance requirements for the $1.8 billion acquisition,” Lynne M. Halbrooks, the Defense Department IG’s principal deputy inspector general, testified.

Correction: This article originally stated that six companies submitted carbine designs for phase two of the competition. There were eight rifles that made it to phase two. 

Topics: Armaments, Small Arms

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