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IAR Additions


Judging from the comments there’s quite a bit of interest — and insider knowledge — of the IAR competition.

I just want to set one thing straight: I wrote the earlier post mainly to get what I had out there and I caveated the whole deal with the fact that my reporting was incomplete.

Thanks to Krag who set me straight on whether the IAR was replacing all SAWs…it clearly is not but I didn’t specify that in my post. And sorry Sven for getting the Singapore company wrong. My source said Ultimax and in my notes it looks like I wrote it as the name of the company, not the name of the gun.

What I decided to do was to go ahead and post the entire response on my questions about the program to SysCom (Marine Corps Systems Command). They would not grant me a phone interview, but that’s not surprising given my long a sordid relationship with them (body armor recall). Maybe if they’d agreed to let me talk to a real person, there wouldn’t have been this confusion (and delay).

Anyway, here’s what Syscom told me:

The Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) marks the return of the automatic rifle to the Corps. It provides the Marine Fire Team and Rifle Squad the capability to achieve fire superiority through short term accurate, high volume, automatic fire to suppress targets and enable the remainder of the unit Fire Team to close with and destroy the enemy. Additionally, The IAR is the individual weapon of the Automatic Rifleman in the Fire Team and, as such, provides his means for offensive and defensive direct fire engagement. The IAR consists of an automatic rifle, designated optic, magazines, bipod, cleaning and maintenance equipment, and sling. The IAR includes attachment points for integration of the full range of currently available weapon accessories such as the Rifle Combat Optic (RCO), PEQ-2A, PAS-13, PVS-17, MWS Broomstick grip, and others.

The source documentation is the Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) for Infantry Automatic Rifle dated Jan. 21, 2005, that validates a requirement for an individual Marine operable, high volume of fire automatic rifle at the Infantry Fire Team level. The Approved Acquisition Objective is for 4,476 weapons to be fielded to the rifle squads within Marine Infantry Battalions and the scout teams within Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalions. There have been no weapons purchased and no contract(s) awarded during this phase.

The IAR will enhance the Automatic Rifleman’s maneuverability and displacement speed, while providing him the ability to achieve fire superiority and suppress or destroy those targets of most immediate concern to the fire team. The IAR LAR shall provide accurate automatic or semi-automatic fires against point (550 meters) and area (800 meters) targets in all light, environmental, and terrain conditions. The IAR will be operated by a single Marine and employed from all doctrinal firing positions. Additionally, the IAR shall demonstrate improved portability, reliability, and maneuverability through constricted terrain and conditions over the current M249 SAW.

Analysis that pointed toward establishing this requirement is listed below:

a. Joint Service Small Arms Master Plan (JSSAMP), 2003. The JSSAMP provides the description of the Services’ desire to evolve current small arms systems into the next generation of more capable and lighter weight systems.

b. U.S. Army Infantry Center LMG JCIDS Capabilities Base Assessment (CBA), Version 1.2, November 2004. Findings: There is a need to improve or replace the current M249 given the capability gaps that the current LMG displays.

c. The need for an Infantry Automatic Rifle was identified by experimentation conducted by 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, during August 2001.

d. The Ground Combat Element (GCE) Conference Report of Sept. 20, 2001 stated Phase I of the experiment was complete with results demonstrating the need for a more effective automatic rifle in the infantry squad.

e. US Army LWMG Analysis.

f. Joint Service Small Arms Individual Small Arms Analysis.

Hope that sheds some additional light on the IAR issue. I’ll post more on this as the news comes in…

– Christian

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

AFM October 8, 2008 at 3:00 pm

SEE: http://www.thebutter-cutter.com/USMC_Rifle_w_Old_Bullet.html


drm October 8, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Umm, so these IARs are basically a standard rifle with a barrel and mechanism capable of extended firing (i.e. a heavy barrel and an open-bolt operating system).
Why not issue them to everyone in the unit?


jeff October 8, 2008 at 8:29 pm

probably for the same reason why the took off the full auto option from the M16. Soldiers wasted too much ammo spraying targets without hitting much. Kinda like all the users of AKs do know.


jsallison October 8, 2008 at 8:50 pm

I guess selecting marines so that they’d consider the SAW a personal weapon is off the table?


stephen russell October 8, 2008 at 9:23 pm

I wouldnt mind a Used SAWs & M4.
IF 2 be scrapped.
Case closed.
Secure our Borders.


steve October 8, 2008 at 11:24 pm

stephen russell: Yeah, the next thing you know Texas and California will be annexed by illegal immigrants, oh wait, that was us.
It’s not the ammo use that was the deciding factor for the switch. Assault rifles are best used in two to three round bursts when used on full auto at all. Changing the sear mechanism to stop at three just made it far easier than training someone to control it manually. We were always trained that the only person who had his M16 on auto was whoever was on point. Besides you can just keep drilling a target with rapid single shots.
An automatic rifle should be a different design all together. It has to be designed to fire 3 to 5 round bursts of relatively accurate fire as opposed to a battle rifle which is designed to be fired semi mostly but capable of full auto fire. Everyone on the squad can’t carry the same toys, it’s a team and a system of interlocking roles. IIRC, the US hasn’t had a real weapon (M16s with cheesy sheet metal bipods don’t count) for this role in a long time, but, there’s often a slot listed on the fire team.


Jimmy October 9, 2008 at 10:36 am

Concur with Steve that you always do 3-5 rnd bursts in auto fire, to maintain accuracy, unless you are in final protective line fire mode.
This conflict of assault rifle/auto rifle vs light machine guns has been with us ever since the Germans invented the assault rifle. Once you put automatic fire into the assault rifle, the question comes up, why do you need a dedicated light machine gun? And what is the difference between the LMG vs an Auto Rifle?
On the squad level, there is very little difference. It is nice that the Marines are challenging the orthodox LMG with some experimentation here.
See my blog for more exploration on the historical roles of the machine gun and LMG/AR future development.


Jimmy October 9, 2008 at 10:37 am

Ooops, my blog is at: http://americanmohist.blogspot.com


P.J. Busche October 9, 2008 at 7:50 pm

I really like the concept of the IAR, and have seen the Future Weapons video on it. Regardless, 30-round magazines are not good enough for even a lightweight machinegun. Currently, aftermarket vendors offer 40-round magazines for AR-15/M-16 rifles; that is a readily available step in the right direction.


tontochoc October 9, 2008 at 9:01 pm

really like the concept of the IAR, and have seen the Future Weapons video on it. Regardless, 30-round magazines are not good enough for even a lightweight machinegun. Currently, aftermarket vendors offer 40-round magazines for AR-15/M-16 rifles; that is a readily available step in the right direction.
Posted by: P.J. Busche at October 9, 2008 07:50 PM
40 round magazines are a real bitch when trying to maintain a low silouette when firing laying down. They tend to ‘tripod’ with the bipod and are clumsy when changing magazines laying down.


Edward October 9, 2008 at 11:19 pm

If the C-Mag is the way to go for an IAR (again, if it’s a valid concept in terms of being separate from a SAW), then I hope that it’s improved over when members of the 82nd Airborne Division were trying it:
“C-MAG Results:


James October 10, 2008 at 12:43 am

I wonder if the Marines have considered arming the assistance automatic rifleman with this weapon. If I remember my doctrine correctly the assistant is armed with a standard M-16 and his role is to assit the Automatic Rifleman(AR) or take over in the event the AR is incapacitated. If the assistant was equiped with an IAR the fire power of the fire team would be increased with a minimal impact on the team in terms of logistics and magazine commonality. Not to mention the added benefit of having the extra firepower immediatly available and not stripping the squad of 1 or 2 of its SAWs


drm October 10, 2008 at 3:31 am

if 40 and 50 round magazines are a problem, why not have side or top-mounted magazines, like the FG42 or Bren.


AMMOAMN October 10, 2008 at 4:08 am

Regardless where you put it, a 40 rd. mag will always pose an issue when you’re trying to use a weapon with efficiency. Top fed, it gets in the way of the sights, or it has to be specially made for that weapon (P-90). Side fed, it will either get in the way when firing from around a corner, or stick way out from the corner, giving you a larger profile. Ever shot at a full seated magazine?
I just requal’d on the M-16A2 yesterday, and even the 30 rd mag sometimes gets in the way in prone supported.


Mang October 23, 2008 at 3:09 am

Here’s a link to a Defense Review post on the latest iteration of the Ultimax SAW. Picatinny rail, folding stock, integrated M16 mag well.
I think the writer over at DefRev could really use a copy of the MLA Handbook, but they’re dependable for current media releases from small arms manufacturers.


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