The U.S. Marine Corps’ New M27 IAR: Part One




” For the past several years SADJ has been following progress of the US Marine Corps’ program to identify and field a suitable alternative to the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.  While the 5.56mm belt fed SAW is touted as a relatively portable weapon that can pump out a high volume of fire, many of the Leatherneck MOS 0311 grunts who have been humping this twenty-plus pound package since 1985 have been asking for something lighter, simpler and more reliable.  This sentiment has been repeated by many in their chain of command from fire team leaders to flag officers.

Like most any significant change to the status quo, the SAW-replacement process has been difficult as various factions have made their often contentious positions known.  Details of this struggle within the Corps, spanning more than two dozen years, will be provided in Part 2.

Meanwhile, the decision has been made and the Corps is well on its way to issuing more than 4,400 M27 IARs as fast as gunmaker Heckler & Koch can deliver them.  By early 2013, every Squad Automatic Rifleman in Infantry fire teams and Light Armored Recon scout teams will be carrying the new IAR.

But don’t mourn for the M249.  A half dozen SAWs will be retained in each Infantry Rifle Company, available to the commander as tactical situations arise. “