The United States Army is in the market for a new rifle. A few months after Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley testified before Congress about the need to replace the 5.56mm M4 Carbine, the service has now issued a solicitation for a 7.62mm weapon system dubbed the Interim Combat Service Rifle.
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In keeping with Gen. Milley’s testimony—where it came out that the Army’s M855A1 5.56mm round couldn’t pierce newly-developed enemy body armor—the solicitation says the Army ID’d a “potential gap in the capability of ground forces and infantry to penetrate body armor using existing ammunition.” Thus, the Army wants to “acquire a commercial 7.62mm ICSR to field with the M80A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) to engage and defeat protected and unprotected threats. The ultimate objective of the program is to acquire and field a 7.62mm ICSR that will increase Soldier lethality.”
The Army intends on awarding a maximum of eight Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs) and will procure seven weapons from each company for testing and evaluation. Interested companies can submit more than one proposal, but each proposal “must be separate and distinct from one another” and must include a bid sample, proposal and a detailed System Safety Assessment Report. The bid sample must come with enough magazines to support the basic load of 210 rounds; one cleaning kit; one suppressor; one specialized tool kit; and one commercial manual.
Once the testing and evaluation phase is finished, the Army will award a Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) based contract for the production of up to 50,000 weapons.
The Army will announce the winner based on three factors: bid sample, production capability and price. The initial Interim Combat Service Rifle bid sample must be chambered in 7.62x51mm; semi and full-auto capable; and suppressor capable. The evaluation of the bid sample will include live-fire testing of the attributes listed below in descending order of importance.
1. Dispersion (300m – function, 600m – simulation)
2. Compatible w/ FWS-I and laser
3. Weapon length (folder or collapsed)/ Weight (empty/bare) / Velocity (300m and 600m calculated)
4. Semi-Automatic and Fully Automatic function testing (bursts and full auto)
5. Noise (at shooter’s ear) / Flash suppression
6. Ambidextrous Controls (in darkness or adverse conditions) / Rail interface
7. 20-30 round magazine to support a 210 round combat load
8. Folding sights
NOTE 1: Attributes 2, 6, 7, and 8 above will be evaluated on a zero/full point basis. An Offeror whose bid sample receives zero (0) points for one (1) or more of these attributes will not be automatically eliminated from the competition; however, receiving a zero (0) score for one (1) or more of these attributes will adversely impact an Offeror’s overall score.
NOTE 2: The proposed candidate will be eliminated from the competition with no further evaluation if at any time the weapon becomes inoperable during testing.
NOTE 3: In order to evaluate the bid sample, the Offeror must include the cleaning, lubrication and preservative (CLP) that is currently on the weapon. The Offeror must be aware that during the evaluations, the weapon will be cleaned with standard, military CLP.
The solicitation also says areas for evaluation could include, but might not be limited to, the following:
Controllability and Recoil, Trigger, Ease/Speed of Magazine Changes, Sighting System Interface (e.g., ability to acquire and maintain sight picture), and Usability of Controls (e.g., safety). Additionally, a small, limited user evaluation may be conducted with qualified solders.
Interested gunmakers are required to submit the bid sample, proposal and System Safety Assessment Report no later than 1500 EST on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017.
To read the full solicitation for the new Interim Combat Service Rifle, visit fbo.gov.