Officials with the Tampa-based USSOCOM followed up on our Mk-16 cancellation story with some clarifications about some of the data presented in the piece posted on Military.com.
First off, the command took issue with my calling the program "cancelled." Technically the SCAR program is still on, of course, but SOCOM has decided not to buy any more of the straight up 5.56 versions. OK...In my book that means the Mk-16 is cancelled, but I can see how they'd get some grief from some quarters about the legalistic terms.
Also, to be clear, SOCOM is not buying any additional Mk-17s than it was already planning to buy. If the article gave some folks that impression, that's an incorrect read of the "buying more" bit. They're buying more than they have now, and no more of the Mk-16s.
Another point. SOCOM said they are definitely having troopers turn in their Mk-16s when they redeploy and will not allow any Mk-16s in the inventory. What SOCOM is not clear on yet is what will happen to the roughly 850 SCAR-Ls once they're back at the armory.
Now, there was confusion on the back and forth via email with SOCOM and FNH on this, but the command wanted to make sure we made this point clear. SOCOM will "complete development" of a kit that can convert the Mk-17 into a 5.56 if desired.
The original objective was to develop a single weapon capable of firing whatever caliber desired. That objective is met with the Mk 17 as the development of a conversion kit allows the operator to fire either 7.62mm or 5.56mm ammunition from the Mk 17.I did get my numbers mixed up on the original acquisition objective. What SOCOM followed up to me was that the JORD showed a requirement for 38,000 Mk-16s and 5,600 Mk-17s.