Wow...two full weeks after we broke the news that (officially) US Special Operations Command had canned the Mk-16, the story is still causing ripples across the Internet, in Congress, the services and in industry.
Fervent denials, insults, attaboys and eye-rolls have greeted the story in various corners but for most close observers of the SCAR program, the news was not surprising.
I'm fine with constructive criticism of my stories and was quick to explain where I messed up or was misunderstood.
But as the curiosity of the program changes keep evolving, two days ago the parent company of FNH-USA which has the SCAR contract with SOCOM, issued a release seemingly contradicting our story...(Big props to Thefirearmsblog where I first saw this)
Belgium-based firearms manufacturer FN Herstal hereby refutes the allegations recently found on the web that USSOCOM abandoned the 5.56 version of the SCAR rifle and reconfirms USSOCOM's decision to acquire the full FN SCAR family of weapons, including the 5.56mm rifle.But that clearly doesn't square with what SOCOM told me. Here's verbatum what SOCOM PAO Maj. Wes Ticer provided for me on June 25:
After completing testing, US Special Operations Command decided to procure the 7.62 mm Mk 17 rifle, the 40mm Mk 13 grenade launcher and the Mk 20 Sniper Support rifle variants of the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) manufactured by FN Herstal. The command will not purchase the 5.56 mm Mk 16. (emphasis added)Who's right?
FNH-USA spokeswoman Elaine Golladay suggested we revisit the more detailed July 2 release from the US-based company for a clearer picture of what's happening...
The issue is whether or not the requirement for a 5.56mm replacement outweighs the numerous other requirements competing for the customers’ limited budget. That is a question that will only be determined by the customer.So, I went ahead and contacted SOCOM to square the two releases and was told the command hadn't reversed course...
There are no changes to the information that we previously released to you about USSOCOM plans to acquire the SCAR.Now look, I understand if we're splitting hairs here -- that what FN Herstal meant to say was that component commands within SOCOM will or may buy the Mk-16 while the overall command, USSOCOM, will not. Or maybe there's just a translation error. I don't know.
Suffice it to say that actually nothing has changed -- that at least in the customer's eyes, there's nothing to "refute" or "reconfirm."