The U.S. Army Improved Carbine Q&A is floating around the web and provides some interesting details about the concerns gun makers have as the Army prepares to release the final request for proposal this month for a competition to replace the M4 carbine.
Here are the top 10 that stood out to me after a quick scrub of the Army's responses to the 246 questions from the small arms industry.
One issue gun makers seem to puzzle over is Army's requirement for "hyper burst."
23. By “ hyper-burst “, do you mean controlled burst?Another reads:
RESPONSE: “Hyper-burst" is defined as "A firing mode that provides multiple/two rounds on target/aim point with a single trigger pull, with the shooter only perceiving single-shot recoil without the muzzle jump/muzzle climb associated with standard burst and/or full automatic firing" and appears in paragraph 6.7 of AR-PD-173 with the other definitions.
148. Firing Modes: “Hyper Burst” is requested as an Objective Requirement for the IC. What is the required accuracy (burst dispersion) on target in inches and at what range? (i.e. all rounds within a 2 inch tile at 25 meters).Gun experts that I talk to maintain that the only company that has a working hyper burst capability is Izhmach, a Russian arms company that produces the AN94. The AN94 has a two-round burst mode that fires at a rate of 1800 rounds per minute.
RESPONSE: AR-PD-173 has no accuracy requirement for this. Having the function will suffice.
The Army, however, seems confident that hyper burst is attainable in the western gun market, judging from its response to part of this question.
197. Does “Hyperburst” technology currently exist? Does duplex ammunition constitute Hyperburst? Must the “Precision Match Trigger Group” also support select fire or “Hyperburst” capability?These others seem to represent the challenges gun makers are up against.
RESPONSE: Yes-Hyper burst does exist in the market. Duplex ammo does not constitute "Hyperburst. The Precision Match Trigger is required to support all firing modes.
6. Introduction -L1.1.1 (page 95 of 122 OF THE ORIGINAL Draft RFP): “An Offeror is permitted to submit one (1) proposal for consideration, which offers a single design that best meets the Government requirements.” We request that this language be removed to allow for multiple designs to be submitted since this will present the Government with the widest range of possible solutions.There are other details that can be gleaned from the entire list of questions and responses. Let me know if you think I missed anything important.
RESPONSE: It is incumbent upon each vendor to submit the weapon they deem best meets the requirements of the IC purchase description.
72. Does the US Army plan on providing pressure data for the M855A1 when fired at 160 deg F and -60 deg F, in accordance with TOP32045?
106. Will the weight requirement be adjusted to accommodate a caliber modular weapon, larger than 5.56mm?
RESPONSE: No. The weight requirement addresses soldier mobility and capability and will not be changed.
107. The weight of the weapon is based on a full magazine with a magazine capacity that is unspecified. This causes an inconsistency between competitors using different size magazine capacities. Please specify the weight of the weapon without the magazine.
RESPONSE: The requirement regarding weight is currently being reviewed. Updates will be specified in the revised Purchase Description.
156. Merit for Modularity and IC Variants: Will special consideration or merit be afforded proposals and candidates that offer the following modularity and variants? ... Merit for Modularity and IC Variants A. Caliber Modularity (conversion from one caliber to another by the operator without special tools).B. Barrel Length Modularity (barrel exchange by the operator without special tools).C. Buttstock Modularity (the ability to remove or exchange buttstock styles by the operator without tools to; no buttstock (i.e. butt cap only), sliding/retractable/collapsible buttstock, folding buttstock and/or sniper/DM buttstock options).D. Feed System Modularity (the ability to exchange the feed system/feed source/feed chute by the operator without tools to allow firing from box magazines, to drum magazines, to belted ammunition and/or to alternative calibers).
RESPONSE: Modularity is not a part of the requirement.
175. If the Carbine offering is capable of firing more than one caliber (i.e. NATO 9mm), will that caliber be tested as well.
RESPONSE: No. Contractors are to provide their submission assembled in the caliber/configuration they want to be evaluated. Vendors are required to submit only one candidate. It is up to the vendor to determine which caliber their candidate needs to be in order to meet the requirements.
238. Can the precision trigger be a two stage trigger.