FNH USA has gotten the go-ahead to move into Operational Test and Evaluation of the SOCOM Combat Assault Rifle (Heavy) and (Light), as well as the Enhanced Grenade Launcher Module.
FN Herstal announced today through FNH USA that the Special OperationsForces (SOF) Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) and Enhanced Grenade Launcher Module (EGLM) program has received approval from the United States Government (USG) to enter into the Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) phase. Scheduled to commence in July and be complete by mid-December, the IOT&E will consist of select US Military operators testing the weapons in simulated real-world mission scenarios. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected, with the ultimate and desired outcome having the weapons being designated Operationally Effective and Operationally Suitable for fielding to US Forces.
This next step comes close on the heels of the SCAR and EGLM successfully passing their Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) acceptance testing conducted February through June of 2007. Going forward, as all timelines fall into place and the weapons test successfully, the SCAR and EGLM can be fielded, on a limited basis, to select US Military Forces by late fall of 2007. Plans to fully field the weapons are now developed and in place, with over $25M (procurement) budgeted in the FY2008 Presidential Budget and over $6M slated for FY2009.
From personal experience, I just gotta say these weapons rock. I fired the SCAR Heavy and Light at FNHs range near Fredericksburg, Va., several months ago and fell particularly in love with the SCAR Heavy. The gas/piston system has a great thunk-thunk mechanical feel to it and the 7.62 caliber heavy packs a heck of a punch. The SCAR Light is easy to fire, very adjustable, and the barrels are easy to interchange - creating basically a whole new weapon for each variation.
Much to my chagrin, they wouldnt let me test fire the EGLM (darn!).
With the new move to IOT&E, the SCAR earns a new designation: Mk-16 and Mk-17...
The SCAR system consists of two highly adaptable modular rifle platforms and a grenade launcher. Now US DoD type-designated as the MK 16 MOD 0 5.56mm Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle - Light (SCAR-L) and the MK 17 MOD 0 7.62mm Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle Heavy (SCAR-H), both SCAR platforms are available with three different barrel lengths optimized for conducting operations in close-quarters combat, standard infantry and longer-range precision fire roles. All SCAR barrels can be easily interchanged by the operator in the field in just minutes to instantly meet the requirements of virtually any mission. The newly designated MK 13 MOD 0 40mm Enhanced Grenade Launcher Module (EGLM) quickly mounts to the underside of either SCAR platform, providing additional punch to the individual warfighters firepower and can be easily configured for use as a stand-alone weapon as well.
FNH says the Mk-16 and Mk-17 are the first assault rifles to be procured through a full and open competition since the M4/M16 carbines in the 1960s. Both FNH weapons are impressive and well see how the operational tests and initial fielding go. I bet operators who get a chance to test them wont want to give them up. I didnt.