Thursday, July 21, 2005

It's only MOSTLY dead...

But not ALL dead, theres a VEEEEEERY big difference....

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release
No. 733-05 IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 19, 2005
Small Arms Weapons Program Reviewed for Joint Service Potential

The Army announced today it temporarily suspended the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the acquisition of a new family of small weapons - Objective Individual Combat Weapon Increment 1 (OICW-1) - in order to incorporate joint requirements. The Army’s proposal has received interest from the other military services, and is further supported by several internal reviews reinforcing the increase in the potential for joint use.

Congressional notification has been made and today’s suspension of the program allows joint requirements to be viewed and incorporated through the Joint Capability and Integration and Development System process, which will occur immediately. Original solicitation started May 11, 2005, and is temporarily suspended effective July 19, 2005, until the Joint Requirements Oversight Committee (JROC) convenes, which is currently scheduled for early September.

Upon the JROC’s completion, the committee will issue a memorandum, which incorporates any new joint OICW-1 requirements. The RFP will be amended accordingly, and issued with a revised effective date for receipt of proposals.

OICW-1 is comprised of a family of small arms weapons that consists of a carbine, special compact, designated marksman, and light machine gun weapon systems. These weapons are intended to replace the M4 carbine, the M16 rifle, the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and selected M9 pistols. The capabilities development document calls for a family of weapons that possess a high degree of commonality, enhanced capabilities, and much higher reliability than our current weapons.

It’s been going around the defense contractor and parts supplier world for the past couple months that this was the way they were going to unofficially kill the thing, and resurrect it as a MUCH simpler program.

Basically someone realized that:

a. The requirements were fundamentally impossible to combine into a single weapon

b. and that even if it WERE possible, that weapon would not be usable

c. and even if it WERE usable, that weapon would be too expensive

d. and even if it WERE affordable, the requirements were wrong in the first place.

The current word from the suppliers is that they are looking for an AR lower based system, with a modified upper. Theres a lot of stories as to what the mods may be, but most agree on the AR lower.

Also the FN scar is semi-officially dead as well. FN made not nice during the selection process and pissed some folks off, so they decided the program should go bye-bye; which is what everyone really wanted at this point anyway (except for FN of course).

Next up, replacing the M9 with a cheaper version of the USP; that isnt the P2000, and is in either .40 or .45 depending on who you believe.

These are all semi-inside sources that I’m getting it from (I know a couple of subcontractors), and THEY aren't sure how accurate THEIR info is, but it seems that a few weeks after I hear from one of those guys, I see something similar in DR or AFJ etc…

Specifically, about a month ago one of my guys told me that there was going to be an official announcment in a few weeks, and that immediately after a couple of the specialty AR houses would have major announcements as well. So look for a big announcement from DPMS, Bushmaster, Rock River etc... in the next week or two.

Or not... this dance has been going on since 1990.

HT: Kim DuToit

UPDATE: A bunch of folks have been commenting "yeah we knew that two years ago, thats why they brought out the XM-8"

Well, yes and no.

Yes, the XM-8 was continued, as the kinetic portion of the OICW, and using some of the budget, but also as a separate program called the XM program.

But no. the XM-8 has been shelved as well. Last year they insititued a 50% parts commonality requirement on the LMG portion (actually it was always there, but they werent enforcing it before), and the XM8 when in the LMG configuration and 50% compliant would MELT.

No joke, the handguards were actually melting and parts were sometimes catching on fire.

So no M-8 for now; which is funny because HK jsut printed up a whole bunch of armorers manuals, training manuals, and posters with the M8 designation on them.

Obviously HK isnt thrilled with this... Of course HK just got to develop their newest toy using Uncle Sams dime, and Uncle Sams time; something they are quite happy about.

Also, they are contiuing to develop the new grenade launcher component, both as a basic semi-auto grenade loauncer, AND as a smart projectile firing launcher. This is something I can see a use fur actually, I jsut wouldnt issue it to every infantryman (as the OICW was intended for).

It is VERY likely that the new solution will be an HK one, far more so than anyone else; for political anf financial considerations never mind the actual value of the weapon.

I have unnofficial word that the next major announcement for testing is going to be a convertible belt/mag fed heavy QC barrelled upper for the AR platform. What I’ve been told is that it will fire belt fed FA from open bolt, and all other modes of fire will be mag fed and closed bolt.

Take that with as large a grain of salt as you like, because the contractor rumor mill can be impressive.