I've been working on this for a few weeks and haven't been able to eke out enough gouge from the other participants for a fuller story, but I figured I'd share with you what I know before it dies on the vine.
An industry source told me that the Marine Corps is close to deciding who will replace its M249 Squad Automatic Weapon with a new gun so-far called the "Infantry Automatic Rifle." Basically, the Corps wants something that looks more like a standard assault rifle, fires from an open breech (and closed breech) in both full and semi-auto modes and "shall demonstrate improved portability, reliability, and maneuverability through constricted terrain and conditions over the current M249 SAW," SysCom told me.
The Corps plans to purchase 4,476 IARs and I'm told the decision on who wins the competition will be coming very soon. The industry source told me that about six companies entered the competition, including Land Warfare Resources Corp., Colt, H&K, FN-USA and a team of General Dynamics and the Singapore company called Ultimax.
Future Weapons has a good video on the LWRC version of the IAR and I'm told the FN-USA version is a play on the SCAR that fires in both open and closed bolt configuration.
The one thing I'm a bit concerned about is the amount of rounds in the mag -- 30 rounds is going to go awfully quick in a suppression or cover fire situation. I'm sure there's a drum being developed for each, but then it's going to be obvious who the automatic rifleman is.
But as long as it's lighter and more portable than the SAW, I guess I can see why they want to make the switch. If anyone has any insight on this competition, please chime in.