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USMC To Replace M249 SAW with M27 IAR
Marines will soon be bidding a fond farewell to the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, more affectionately known as the M249 SAW. According to Marine Corps Times, it looks like all infantry battalions will be fielding the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle by the end of next year.
“Leaders recently awarded a contract worth up to $23.6 million with the maker of the 5.56mm machine gun, Heckler & Koch Defense of Ashburn, Va.,” reports the Marine Corps Times article. “The company plans to begin delivering more than 3,600 IARs to the Corps early next year, said Robert Reidsma, who oversees the IAR program for HK.”
[Photo by Rob Curtis]
As part of the experimental fielding phase, 458 weapons were delivered starting late last year. For upwards of 10 years there has been arguments for replacing the belt-fed M249 SAW. While packing quite the proverbial punch, it’s heavier and not as accurate as the M27 IAR.
Over this summer, Commandant Gen. Jim Amos approved full fielding. The IAR will replace the M249 SAW for all Marine rifle squads and light armored reconnaissance scout sections. “In conventional infantry battalions, virtually every four-man fire team will have an IAR, with three per squad, 28 per company and up to 4,476 across the Corps, Marine officials said,” continues the article.
The IAR will be fielded with 30-round magazines and MantaRail rail guards will be incorporated. While some have voiced concerns over firepower, military officials state that the auto-rifle’s positives far outweigh the negatives. The M27 IAR is more accurate and “improves automatic rifleman and small-unit lethality, mobility and survivability,” said 1st Lt. Jamie Larson, spokesperson for the Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va.
Do you think the IAR is more fitting for Marine use than the SAW?