M27 IAR Enhances Marine Fire Teams
Heckler & Koch (HK) Defense-USA,
a small arms company that supplies
NATO forces as well as law enforcement agencies, responded to a 2007
Marine Corps request for proposals
for an Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR)
program to replace the M249 Squad
Automatic Weapon (SAW) as a true
automatic rifle for the automatic
rifleman in each of the four-man fire
teams of each infantry squad. HK’s
submission was a commercial, off-the-shelf variant of the HK416,
which was later designated the M27
IAR by the Marine Corps.
U.S. MARINE CORPS
Marines with 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, verify the battle sight zero
on their M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
The total estimated value of the
IAR contract for production and
delivery of systems, parts and initial training-related items is $23.6
million. The weapon manufacturing is completed in HK’s production facility in Germany and then
equipped with U.S.-based ancillary
equipment prior to being delivered
to the Marine Corps.
After testing and competitive down-selects, HK was awarded and delivered a low-rate initial production
order for approximately 500 IARs in
2010. The service entry led to full-rate production and deliveries in
2011-2012 of up to 6,500 IAR systems based on the five-year indefinite
delivery/indefinite quantity competitive contract. IAR system deliveries
will be completed early this year.
Robbie Reidsma is HK Defense-USA’s M27 IAR program/project
manager in Ashburn, Va.
The M27 IAR was desired by the Marine Corps to be a nondevelopmental 5.56mm, magazine-fed, automatic-capable firing weapon
that was fired from the open and/or closed bolt. The rifle had to be much
lighter, more durable and more reliable than the M249 SAW, with the
weapon significantly enhancing the automatic rifleman’s maneuverability
and displacement speed, while providing the ability to suppress or destroy
targets of the most immediate concern to the advancing fire team.
The IAR has reduced the weight load of the automatic rifle, which
reduces operator fatigue and increases the portability of the system. The
M27 works significantly more reliably, as compared to the SAW in the
automatic rifle role, [and] is simpler and safer to operate. It uses the same
30-round fielded magazine.
The IAR has increased lethality by increasing the ratio of hits on a key
threat to the advancing fire team, with regard to number of shots fired, by
increasing the precision of the system in both semi-automatic and automatic fires. Increasing precision and effects of those fires delivered additionally saves ammunition from being wasted in a firefight.
Due to the simplicity of the system, training and maintenance time is
reduced and previously learned M4/M16 operator “muscle memory” is
applied to the IAR. Reloading and clearing a stoppage (should one occur)
are accomplished much faster than a belt-fed system with a feed tray —
especially when maneuvering toward the threat, [which becomes] even
more critical at night. The profile of the M27 system reduces the presence
of a high-volume fire system making the automatic rifleman less likely as
a targeted threat be enemy forces.
Ultimately, the lethality and tempo of the team and squad in the attack
can be increased with the use of the M27 IAR, which adds a level of
safety to the unit as a whole.