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The Corps has awarded four contracts to three companies to produce prototypes of the 5.56mm Infantry Automatic Rifle, which is slated to supplant the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, or SAW, according a Dec. 26 Marine Corps Systems Command announcement.
The three firms will compete for a contract that could be worth up to $27 million. The firm selected will manufacture from 4,476 to 6,500 rifles.
The three companies are:
• FN Herstal of Herstal, Belgium.
• Heckler and Koch Defense of Ashburn, Va.
• Colt Defense of West Hartford, Conn.
Colt received two contracts because it has two candidate weapons sufficiently different to warrant separate evaluations, according to SysCom.
"Each [company] will produce and deliver a minimum of 10 weapons. The Marine Corps will next evaluate these weapons and then intends to select one weapon system from one company to meet the IAR requirement," Marine officials said in a news release.
The IAR is a lightweight, magazine-fed weapon. It will provide a one-for-one replacement of the M249 in Marine rifle squads within infantry battalions and in the scout teams in light armored reconnaissance battalions.
The weapons will be tested by infantry Marines as SysCom works to solicit input from throughout the operating forces, the release states.