I'd like to sincerely thank the readers here at Kit Up! for their incredibly respectful conversation about the swirling mass or rumors, innuendo, assumptions and insults that are rearing their ugly heads again on the SCAR program right now.
Kit Up! reader Ricardo Almeida had a very good comment yesterday that I'd like to answer in a post all its own. His comment was respectful and cogently argued and I probably should have done this earlier but I'll do it now.
Ricardo said what I think a silent majority of SCAR program followers are wondering and that is "until SOCOM puts out a statement, it's all rumor and guessing"...
Well, here you go:
On June 25, USSOCOM PAO Maj. Wes Ticer provided to Kit Up! an official, on the record statement answering several questions we sent him about the status of the program. The main motivation for the official query on our part was to actually put to rest the rumors swirling around the program (I'm sure many of you reading this had heard them too) and in fact, a commenter way back on Kit Up! asked the simple question: "What is the latest on the SCAR?"
So, I asked.
Here's what Ticer provided to me on June 25 (I've excerpted the part pertaining specifically to the Mk-16):
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.
The Mk 17 will fill an existing capability gap for a 7.62 mm rifle. The Mk 16 does not provide enough of a performance advantage over the M4 to justify spending limited USSOCOM funds when competing priorities are taken into consideration.
On July 9, FN-Herstal (the Belgian parent company) put out a statement contradicting our story:
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.
Given this statement, I reconfirmed the USSOCOM statement with the command's top PAO who said nothing had changed since the June 25 statement.
Then yesterday (August 18), I again re-reconfirmed the June 25 statement to Kit Up! stating the command would not buy the Mk-16 after we received incoming rounds spurred by FNH-USA's release on full rate production.
So, I just wanted to set the record straight. We are not in the business of reporting rumors on a story as important (and emotional) as this. I searched for the facts, got them from the government source and reported them to Kit Up! readers (and I'll also reiterate, I did seek comment from FNH-USA and got a detailed statement from them, but it was OFF THE RECORD so I could not use it).
UPDATE: Gabe Bailey, the marketing director for military weapons at FNH-USA confirmed our reporting on another forum saying USSOCOM is not purchasing the Mk-16:
You are correct and I am not hiding any facts. And, as the main customer has stated, they do not plan to buy the MK 16...in my humble opinion, this has nothing to do with performance but rather smartly-weighed budget decisions.