2006 Carbine Competition: What Happened, Revealed
On February 3, 2006, the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command issued a presolicitation notice for a nondevelopmental 5.56mm carbine capable of firing U.S. standard M855 and M856 ammunition. The current standard weapon in this class is the M-16 derivative M4. The US Army planned to award contracts for 193,400 carbines, with an estimated procurement cost was $294.7 million.
Contractors got excited. Rumours flew. Then the Army canceled the effort – the second time it had canceled a carbine competition in less than a year. People were unhappy. People wondered what was going on. Now a Department of Defense Inspector General report can enlighten you, on a couple of fronts. Apparently, the whole procedure was a move to get more price flexibility out of Colt, whose prices had been rising. The I-G auditors say that TACOM didn’t follow proper procedures and created needless effort among contractors. TACOM says what they did makes perfect business sense, explicitly committed them to nothing, and was successful. Read “D-2007-026, Competition of the 5.56-Millimeter Carbine” [PDF | text] and decide – and reflect on all the red tape and effort involved in getting weapons systems bought or changed.