Monday, April 23, 2018

Contracting Overreach: Are H&K’s Eyes Bigger than its Stomach?

            German firearms manufacturer Heckler and Koch is burning the candle at both ends.  The company claims to have increased its manufacturing capacity by 100% since being acquired by private owners in 2002, but the gun giant has acquired a reputation for not making any promises to its commercial dealers about delivery times.  This is probably because the company is fulfilling major military contracts with five separate countries—the Americans, British, French, Dutch, and Germans all have active contracts out with Heckler and Koch.

            When the U.S. Marine Corps put in an order for 50,000 Heckler and Koch M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles last year, it raised speculation that the service might be intending to replace all of its M4 carbines with the M27.  The M27 was designed to replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, and although the M27’s limited ammunition supply created a controversy about its efficacy at sustained suppressive fire, its accuracy and lethality at range has helped it to find success in the hands of designated marksmen in the Corps.  50,000 rifles would just be the first step towards replacing the M4 carbine, though, and with Heckler and Koch USA focusing its new Georgian factory on commercial offerings, the question remains—can H&K handle the role it clearly wants, as the sole source of M27 IARs?

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