Looks like the Army is trying to fix the problems OIF and OEF brought out on the M-16/M-4:
Soldiers, get ready for a better carbine. The Army has launched a dual strategy designed to give you a more accurate, durable and lethal weapon that will be the mainstay for the next 40 years.
The first part of that strategy is to radically overhaul the M4 starting now and give grunts an improved version of the special operations M4A1. Simultaneously, the second part challenges industry to come up with a new carbine that can outperform the M4. The competition opened in early August.
—Army wants soldiers to have improved carbine
By Lance M. Bacon ArmyTimes.Com
There will be must heat but little light for a while. The Army was shamed when the M-4 failed the dust tests a few years ago. The XM-8 and HK-416 spanked the M-4, as did the SCAR.
Too much has been invested to replace the M-4/16 outright. Too much training, doctrine and the supply chain. I believe the “winner” will be either the full auto M-4A1 with a heavy barrel or another Colt entry that’s very close to the M-4.
There are other rifles out there, if the Army picks one I’ll be surprised. If Colt losses, expect much crying, whining and hair pulling from Colt. They bitched about the 416 (“It’s a German weapon!”), despite the fact than many “foreign weapons” are used by US troops. They are built under license in the US (federal law requires it). Colt will pitch a fit until they either: get the way, derail the competition or lose for good. That’s because the GAO and the DOD let them. Back in the 80’s and 90’s if you lost you lost, not now. Expect to see much whining from Colt.
I hope PEO Soldier runs this like a Swiss watch. If Colt can come through, I won’t complain. The best rifle needs to win. Not the company with the most pull on the Hill, but the rifle/carbine the puts rounds on target with less fussing by us in ACU’s.
I also hope every soldier gets one. Regular Army (line units and support) National Guard and Reserves. The old rifles can be sold to friendly governments, scrapped or better yet, the M-16’s could be converted to semi-auto and sold as surplus. Or the parts can anyway. Let home gunsmiths make M-16’s out of the scraps.
We need a new weapon. This promises to be a big story in the coming months.
See my writings on the M-16 debate here.