The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)’s 2017 Armament Systems Forum, which just wrapped yesterday in Fredericksburg, Va., contained a number of juicy tidbits regarding the weapons used by our armed forces. The first revelation was that the US Army had selected soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division to be the first to field the new Sig Sauer XM17 service pistol. Now we’re seeing that the NDIA forum also included a discussion on an expanded role for the USMC’s M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR).

According to Soldier Systems, the Corps wants to capitalize on the long range of the M27 — adopted in 2011 and based on the Heckler & Koch HK 416 5.56mm — by equipping an as-yet undetermined amount of M27s with 3-9x optics for use as a Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDM-R) beginning in Fiscal Year 2018, with fielding expected to be completed by Fiscal Year 2019. Chris Woodbury, Deputy for the Maneuver Branch of the Marine Corps Capabilities Development Directorate, dropped that particular nugget of information.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is also continuing to evaluate squads that are equipped solely with the M27, but as Soldier Systems notes, fielding the M27 to all Infantry seems more likely, as that’s been Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller’s priority in terms of modernization.

The Corps is continuing to evaluate submissions received from industry manufacturers after putting out a Request for Information (RFI) for 11,000 additional IARs back in February. Kit Up! notes that, while the M27 is the current IAR, the RFI is competitive because of “contracting rules and practices.” Among the requirements is that the submission must accept and function with all Department of Defense 5.56mm ammo; weigh less than 12.5 pounds; measure less than 40 inches in length with the buttstock extended to a Length of Pull of 13.5 inches; and have a rate of fire of 36 rounds per minute for 16 minutes and 40 seconds without a barrel change or risk of cook-off.

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