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Army's New Machine-Gun Optic Program on Hold

Army Sgt. Jaquez Jones, left, observes a soldier firing a mounted M2 .50 cal. Browning machine gun during live-fire training at Wedrzyn, Poland, Nov. 30, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army)
Army Sgt. Jaquez Jones, left, observes a soldier firing a mounted M2 .50 cal. Browning machine gun during live-fire training at Wedrzyn, Poland, Nov. 30, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The U.S. Army's search for a new optic for its medium and heavy machine guns has been delayed as the service hunts for a new acquisition path for the program.

Project Manager Soldier Weapons had planned to issue a request for proposal for the Mounted Machine gun Optic, or MMO, in mid-July, according to the original June 26 pre-solicitation notice. The MMO program is intended to give soldiers manning the M240B and M2 .50 caliber machine guns, as well as the Mk19 grenade launcher, "faster target acquisition times and increased first burst probability of hit."

But in an Aug. 8 update, the Army announced that the MMO "is still ongoing; however, we have reached a point in which we may redirect the procurement from a [federal acquisition regulation]-based procurement to an [other transactional authority]-based procurement."

Other transactional authorities, or OTAs, are a new tool that allows the services to avoid the traditional, complex bureaucratic acquisition process and award contracts to firms to build prototypes that can help refine requirements and theoretically speed up the development process.

"At this time, we cannot anticipate when the solicitation will be released," the update states.

The Army had intended the MMO procurement as a full and open competition acquisition seeking a system solution that will enable "warfighters to scan with both eyes open, then rapidly slew the weapon on target, and engage with a higher confidence of getting the first burst on target," the pre-solicitation states.

The service had planned to award up to three contracts for firms to produce 35 MMOs each. The systems would then have undergone developmental and user testing and, based on the results, the Army planned to order up to 11,450 MMOs, the pre-solicitation states.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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