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Old 07-16-2010, 11:15 AM
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Default US Marines set to field M27 IAR

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The Marine Corps will field its new, lightweight auto rifle this fall to five combat battalions preparing for war-zone deployments.

Commandant Gen. James T. Conway gave Corps officials the green light in April to issue approximately 450 M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles, enough to replace every M249 squad automatic weapon in four infantry battalions and one light armored reconnaissance battalion.

The limited fielding is a final test to find out if the Heckler & Koch-made weapon performs as well in an operational environment as it has in testing, said Charles Clark III, who oversees infantry weapons requirements at the Corps' Combat Development and Integration office at Quantico, Va.

"The battlefield test will be a verification of what we have already established through extensive operational testing," Clark said. "We want to get a user assessment prior to full-rate production."

Conway's decision comes despite his past concerns about replacing the M249 with a magazine-fed automatic rifle. His main worry is whether the M27's light weight and accuracy will be enough to make up for the loss of suppressive firepower Marine gunners will give up when they go into battle without the belt-fed M249.

Program officials acknowledge that a 30-round magazine cannot produce the high volume of fire the M249 is capable of when loaded with a 200-round belt. The Corps is considering high-capacity magazines that can hold 50 or 100 rounds of 5.56mm ammo, but Marines that deploy with this first batch of IARs will carry only 30-round magazines.

"The initial limited fielding will not include a high-capacity ammunition source, but that remains an option," Clark said, explaining that such magazines will have to undergo a separate round of testing.

The M27, a variant of the H&K 416, weighs just 7.9 pounds, unloaded. By comparison, the M249 weighs 17 pounds, unloaded.

Marines involved in operational testing at Twentynine Palms, Calif.; Fort McCoy, Wis.; and Camp Shelby, Miss., were "very comfortable with it because it's a lot like a M16A4 and it's far more maneuverable and portable" than the M249, Clark said. "The H&K gun has performed very well throughout operational testing."

Marine officials selected the H&K weapon in October over two prototypes from Colt Defense LLC and one made by FN Herstal. (Colt makes the M4 and FN makes the M249.) The M27 uses a short-stroke gas piston, which proved more reliable than the M16/M4's direct gas system in an Army dust test in late 2007.

The new IAR, which fires from the closed-bolt position, is most effective when employed as a point-target weapon, program officials maintain.

"The accuracy has been a real standout," Clark said. "The IAR has demonstrated to be a far more accurate gun" than the M249, which fires from the open-bolt position.

In the defensive role, the M27 used "far less" ammunition to drop the same number of targets compared to the M249, Clark said.

Program officials maintain that the increased accuracy will compensate for the M27's slower, sustained rate of fire. Unlike the M249, the new IAR doesn't have a spare barrel that can be switched out to prevent overheating. Marine gunners will have to keep their sustained rate of fire at 65 rounds per minute compared to the M249's 85 rounds per minute.

"It has a little bit lower sustained rate of fire, but it's far more accurate," Clark said.

The Corps hopes to begin fielding the M27s in November so Marine units have "four to six months" to train with their new weapons.

"We are not sending these guns straight to Afghanistan," Clark said. "The units that are participating will have the guns long before they go into theater."

Each company in the three active infantry battalions and one reserve infantry battalion will receive 28 M27s, one for every SAW gunner and one extra to remain organic to the unit. These companies will also retain six M249s to give commanders more firepower if necessary, Clark said.

The LAR battalion will receive 14 M27s per company and will not retain any M249s.

The Corps plans on buying 4,476 M27s and reducing its number of M249s from 10,000 to approximately 8,000, Marine officials said.

But that adjustment will not happen until Conway sees the results from the user assessment, Clark said, adding that it could be late next summer before the feedback is collected from theater.

Marine Corps requirements officials hope that Conway will decide whether to take the weapon into full-rate production by late 2011.

"We are confident that the gun we have tested is a good gun, but the final decision rests with the commandant of the Marine Corps," Clark said.
http://www.military.com/news/article...=1186032325324

I'm not a Marine, but I've severe doubts that a heavy-barreled carbine will be able to do the job of the 249. Why do we need a 21st century Browning Auto Rifle? Isn't the BAR's shortcomings the whole reason we fielded the M60 as its replacement in the '60s?

I'm not understanding this round-about trend in US military small arms today.
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Old 07-16-2010, 03:15 PM
Markost Markost is offline
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I read about that a month ago. Why the hell do you need a heavy barreled 5,56 carbine when you have the Mk 48 in 7,62x51??
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Old 07-16-2010, 04:10 PM
Nyles Nyles is offline
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Yeah, that doesn't make a lick of sense to me either. I've heard it suggested that this is a backdoor effort to get new carbines but I don't think I buy it. I've never worked with Marines, so their tactics might be different from ours, but given the emphasis we put on winning the firefight this would definately seem like a step in the wrong direction.
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Old 07-17-2010, 04:00 AM
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I can understand some of the reasons like a lighter weapon that delievers almost the same amount of firepower as an LMG, but the only problem with be overheating the barrel and the magazine capacity. Maybe if they have every made start carrying 100 drum beta mags.

I saw an episode of Future Weapons about the IAR almost a year ago, but this one was made by LWRC. It fires in semi with the bolt close for accuracy, but in full auto, the bolt is open to stop jamming and overheating, which is a lot better

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YzGz...eature=related
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Last edited by Excalibur; 07-17-2010 at 04:32 AM.
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Old 07-17-2010, 05:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markost View Post
I read about that a month ago. Why the hell do you need a heavy barreled 5,56 carbine when you have the Mk 48 in 7,62x51??
Or the smaller Mark 46 if squad ammo commonality is desired, which was one of the original requirements of the SAW program.

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Originally Posted by Nyles View Post
Yeah, that doesn't make a lick of sense to me either. I've heard it suggested that this is a backdoor effort to get new carbines but I don't think I buy it. I've never worked with Marines, so their tactics might be different from ours, but given the emphasis we put on winning the firefight this would definately seem like a step in the wrong direction.
I know the UK fielded their own IAR with the L86 LSW, but didn't Canada originally try this with a heavy-barreled C7? Whatever happened with that? I know the L86 performed better as an SDM-R and failed as a support weapon only to be replaced in the latter role by--you guessed it--the Minimi (which I know Canada also uses today).
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Last edited by Spartan198; 07-17-2010 at 05:20 AM.
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Old 07-17-2010, 05:34 AM
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Actually a while back the US also fielded an M16 with a heavier barrel before the SAW.
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Old 07-17-2010, 06:08 AM
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Without a large magazine capacity, the IAR is just another rifle, making it somewhat inadequate as a support weapon, especially next to an M249 (the BAR comparison is a pretty good point too). They do need to find a machine gun to replace the M249 though, or buy some new ones, as the ones being used are showing signs of wear. A few of my friends in the military have talked about them as if they were jam-o-matics, which makes sense as they probably see more rounds than anything on the field. I'm not a fan of this IAR concept though, and I don't think the test will yield positive results.

I think one of the main reasons they are steering away from the M249 though is because it's fuck heavy. The Mark 46 and 48 are roughly the same weight, so they offer nothing in this area, but the IAR is less than half the M249's weight loaded, which is the most obvious benefit (but to me it's probably the only benefit).
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Old 07-17-2010, 06:12 AM
Nyles Nyles is offline
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Yeah, the C7 LSW. That was Diemaco product aimed at succeeding the old C2 automatic rifle, but it was never a CF weapon. They (rightly) went with the FN Minimi, now the C9. The C2 was a heavy-barelled bipod-mounted FAL with FA capability and a 30 round mag. I'll say this - you still get guys who miss the FN C1, but nobody misses the C2. Surprisingly inaccurate weapon apparently.
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Old 07-17-2010, 06:35 AM
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There's got to be a way to design an LMG, trim enough weight on it, and keep all the good qualities of the SAW. I mean, if they do just issue beta c mags to every man that has an IAR, that would somewhat solve the ammo problem
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Old 07-17-2010, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Excalibur View Post
Actually a while back the US also fielded an M16 with a heavier barrel before the SAW.
We actually fielded it? I thought it was just tested during the SAW trials? Or am I wrong?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyles View Post
Yeah, that doesn't make a lick of sense to me either. I've heard it suggested that this is a backdoor effort to get new carbines but I don't think I buy it. I've never worked with Marines, so their tactics might be different from ours, but given the emphasis we put on winning the firefight this would definately seem like a step in the wrong direction.
Well, the thing is, right now, it's mostly just supplementing the M249s, not completely replacing them. But I agree that there isn't too much logic behind the IAR. The only people for whom the IAR might make sense are the Recon Marines (since they're basically not supposed to let themselves get shot at, let alone shoot back) who want to minimize what they have to carry.
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Last edited by MT2008; 07-17-2010 at 01:15 PM.
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