Dutch SRIM-OAD Project to Refurbish and Improve Infantry Weapons
Use means wear. Wear means maintenance or replacement. Use in combat conditions also generates life-or-death requests for improvements. The Dutch are facing al of these imperatives thanks to combat operations in southern Afghanistan, and so they are turning their attention to the weapons their soldiers carry. Their army currently uses a combination of C7 (M16), C8 (M4), and LSW (M16 CAR sustained fire weapon) rifles from Diemaco (now Colt Canada), and FN Herstal’s Minimi 5.56mm light machine gun. Under Project SRIM-OAD, the Dutch intend to RESET and upgrade 25,000 Diemaco rifles, and receive 2,000 new and upgraded Minimis, in order to re-equip their front line forces. The Dutch also aim to keep a spares reserve of 5% for mechanical elements and 10% for optical elements; the latter figure being because optics are more delicate and have longer repair or replacement times.
This EUR 43.8 million (VAT tax included, about $56 million) project will add at least 2 major upgrades to their weapons, and a contract has now been signed.
- SRIM-OAD Modifications
- Contracts and Key Events
One is Aimpoint’s famous “red dot” sights, which will be bought under the SRIM ‘quick aiming device’ program. This much-copied innovation uses a glowing red dot that can be seen from a distance, instead of hard to see crosshairs that require an eye near the scope. This significantly improves both soldier accuracy and reaction time, and Aimpoint sights are currently in widespread service with the US, French, Italian, and Swedish militaries. Aimpoint’s low energy consumption was cited as a reason they were chosen to replace the current sights from Raytheon’s ELCAN (likely the same SpecterOS3.4x used by Canada), which use tritium. Tritium is a radioactive material, with all applicable environmental regulations associated with its storage and disposal; it also creates a dot that is much harder to see in daylight. The US Army’s current Close Combat Optic standard is Aimpoint’s COMPM4, which claims up to 8 years of continuous use from a single AA battery.
The second major innovation is the addition of “Picatinny Rails” (MIL-STD-1913, NATO STANAG 2324) to their rifles and light machine guns, which allow soldiers to quickly and securely mount and swap all sorts of additional sights, illuminators, laser pointers, grips, and other devices, without needing specialized tools.
Other changes to the rifles will include a rail-compatible vertical forward grip (which could be the Grip-pod for a 3rd major innovation), a re-adjustable buttstock, and some changes to the fire selector & magazine release. Due to combat wear from their higher volume of fire, the Minimis will not be RESET, but replaced with new and improved models. This has become a problem for the USMC as well, and spawned their current IAR replacement program. The new Dutch LMGs will come with a Picatinny Rail system, and compatible Aimpoint sights and vertical forward grips will be purchased to complement them.
Contracts and Key Events
July 15/10: The Dutch may be refurbishing and improving their Diemaco/Colt rifles, but their KCT special forces are trading in their Diemaco C8A1GD rifles for Heckler & koch’s 5.56mm HK416. The HK416 has received high marks for accuracy and reliability, and its gas piston system is highly resistant to fouling or jams. It is in use by american and other special forces, and has been picked by the Norwegian Army. Dutch MvD [in Dutch].
Jan 29/09: According to a letter from the Dutch Secretary of Defence [PDF, in Dutch], the Diemaco (Colt Canada) offer was rated as the best, and their economic compensation package was aproved by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Reset work will be done by Marinebedrijf at Den Helder. Colt Canada’s offer is valid until March 1/09, and the final contract has yet to be negotiated. The final figure may differ slightly from the EUR 43.8 million due to currency fluctuations.
DID thanks subscriber David Vandenberghe for his translation and assistance with this article.