The big dust test of three piston-driven ARs against the M4 carbine are on hold until sample Mk16 SCAR (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle) can be delivered. They are now expected in December. The test had originally been scheduled to begin last month.
The SCAR sample models, which are still in development, will not be delivered until December, Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, the commander of Program Executive Office Soldier, told Army Times recently. Brown said the tests will begin when all 10 sample models of each weapon are present. The test will feature weapons officials shooting 6,000 rounds though each weapon under sandstorm conditions.
Weapons officials from PEO Soldier scheduled the tests to be performed at Army Test and Evaluation Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in July. Coburn began questioning the Army more than four months ago about its plans to spend $375 million to purchase M4s through fiscal 2009. Lighter and more compact than the M16 rifle, the M4 is more effective for the close confines of urban combat. The Army began fielding the M4 in the mid-1990s.
Coburn questioned the M4’s “long-standing reliability” problems in his original April 12 letter and asked if the Army had considered newer, possibly better weapons available on the commercial market.
The weapons will be exposed to sandstorm-like conditions and then fired. Ten samples of each weapons will each have 6,000 rounds fired through it over the course of the five month test. The Army agreed to conduct the tests after Sen. Coburn threatened to hold up Army Secretary Peter Geren’s confirmation earlier this year.
The weapons going up against the M4 are:
- Mk 16 SCAR-L by FHN USA
- HK416 by Heckler & Koch
- XM8 by Heckler & Koch
Yes, you read that right. The XM8 is in on this, though I don’t expect anything to change regarding that program even if it were to win the competition.
I would have liked to see something from LWRC in on this, too.
What Murdoc would really like is some feedback from readers about this competition. Does it sound valuable? Fair? Should changes be in order if the M4 performs poorly? Will you trust the results?