Nearly a week after we ran our story on the cancellation of the Mk-16 Socom Combat Assault Rifle, manufacturer FN Herstal sent us an on-the-record response to the unfortunate development.
Before we get into the release, a little background. First of all, my dealings with FNH-USA in my decade as a defense reporter have been nothing but friendly and professional. The folks I've dealt with there have always been helpful and responsive to story queries and have on several occasions helped me in other areas of small arms and weaponry that had nothing to do with their systems.
I asked FNH-USA to comment on the Mk-16 story the day I was running it and I got a very detailed response from them on a variety of issues regarding the Mk-16 and 17 and Mk-13 -- but all of it was provided "off the record" so, of course, I couldn't use any of it in a story.
The statement they sent me last night was respectful and detailed, and it did not impugn my story or the command which cancelled a huge chunk of the SCAR program.
FNH fiercely defended their weapon and recognized the difficulty SOCOM has with budget pressure and requirements.
FNH USA believes the fact that the SCAR program recently passed Milestone C and was determined to be operationally effective / operationally suitable (OE/OS) for fielding, highlights the tremendous capability the weapons system offers deployed special operators.The company also left a sort of pleading pitch for other services to consider the Mk-16 as an M4 alternative, but didn't sound too positive about adoption of the "common receiver" concept.
FNH USA believes the issue is not whether the SCAR, and specifically the MK 16 variant, is the superior weapon system available today ...it has already been proven to be just that. The issue is whether or not the requirement for a 5.56mm replacement outweighs the numerous other requirements competing for the customers’ limited budget.
While we know that the MK 17, to include the "common receiver" and corresponding 5.56mm conversion kit is an option, other Services and SOF components will have the ability to procure the MK 16 stand-alone rifle under the contract if it better meets their mission requirements.At the end of the day, we all need to recognize that the folks at FNH-USA worked hard on this program and believed in it strongly. Both SCAR variants are great guns no matter how you slice it and the engineers, shooters and marketeers did their best to give operators what they needed.
In conclusion, the management and employees of FN are proud to provide this generation of special operators their first, entirely new assault rifle that meets and, in our opinion, exceeds the demands of today's battlefield.