Five units will soon deploy with the new M27 infantry automatic rifle, a 5.56mm weapon that may one day replace the M249 squad automatic weapon. A total of 458 rifles will be delivered by the gun’s maker, Heckler and Koch, and meted out to five battalions working up for deployments to Afghanistan.

They are:

• 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

• 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

• 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

• 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, out of Pendleton.

• And 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, a Reserve unit out of Fort Devens, Mass.

The Corps has tentative plans to buy about 4,100 M27s, but Gen. James Conway called for limited fielding before he retired as commandant in October. He was concerned the new weapon, carrying a 30-round magazine, would not provide enough firepower to establish fire superiority in combat.

Lt. Gen. George Flynn, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, told reporters Nov. 16 in Washington that he expects the battalions involved in the limited fielding would have the weapons by this month. They’re all expected to deploy in 2011.

“We’re going to be anxious to see what the test results or what the feedback are for when the battalions actually take it out on deployment,” said Flynn, speaking at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.

It’s a matter of matching the correct weapon with needs downrange, Flynn said.

Source: Dan Lamothe for Military Times

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