The U.S. Marine Corps plans to purchase more than 50,000 additional M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles (IARs) from the German gun-maker Heckler & Koch, according to a recent solicitation.
The service, which earlier this year bought thousands of the product, posted the notice last week on the website Federal Business Opportunities to disclose that it aims to buy the weapons under a sole-source deal.
"The Government intends to solicit and negotiate with Heckler & Koch (H&K), 19980 Highland Vista Drive, #190, Ashburn, VA 20147, for up to 50,814 - M27 Infantry Automatice [sic] Rifles (IAR)," it states.
Spokespeople for the service and the company didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
Based on the HK416, the M27 is chambered for a 5.56mm round and carried by Marine automatic riflemen, though officials have discussed the possibility of fielding the weapon as the new service rifle for all or most infantrymen rather than the M4.
The eight-pound weapon has greater range than the M4 (about 550 meters for a point target), a 30-round magazine, and semi-automatic and automatic modes.
The notice didn't specify a cost, but the agreement could be worth more than $150 million for the company. The M27 goes for about $3,000, which is roughly three times the price tag of an M4, made by Colt Defense and FN America.
Last year, the Corps' California-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, began conducting pre-deployment exercises with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle to evaluate it as the new service rifle for infantry battalions
This summer, the service began a potentially 20-month-long experiment involving an "Uber Squad" at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to test out gear including the M27, as well as suppressors, polymer drum mags and special operations-issue hearing protection.
-- Hope Hodge Seck contributed to this report.