FN Herstal announced today that on 22 December 2008 the FN infantry automatic rifle (IAR) was down-selected as one of four competitive products for procurement by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) following a full and open competition. Each awardee will now produce and deliver test samples for evaluation by the Marine Corps.

This is the first phase of a five-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for the production, delivery and associated support of the Marine Corps’ IAR. The IAR is planned to replace a limited number of lightweight machine guns currently used in the automatic riflemen role within infantry and light armored reconnaissance (LAR) battalions. The company whose weapon system will be selected after the Marine Corps evaluations will be awarded delivery orders for up to 6,500 IARs along with spare/repair parts and various support services.

The IAR is a lightweight, magazine-fed, 5.56mm weapon which enhances the automatic rifleman’s maneuverability and displacement speed while providing the ability to suppress or destroy not only area targets, but point targets as well.

The FN IAR derives from the SCAR™ platform and includes high tech components. It is a unique, highly-adaptable, modular selective fire weapon system that fills the roles of both individual battle rifle and squad automatic rifle in one light, compact package. The magazine-fed FN IAR is capable of firing from a closed bolt in both semi-automatic and fully-automatic modes, yet automatically transitions into open-bolt operation in semi-automatic or full-automatic before reaching cook-off temperature for a chambered cartridge.

“We at FN are extremely pleased that the USMC has chosen the FN IAR to go forward into further verification testing and evaluation,” noted Mark Cherpes, vice president of military operations for FNH USA, FN Herstal’s subsidiary in the United States. “The FN IAR is truly a leap ahead in small arms technology that will assist marines in accomplishing their mission. Although we are down-selected as one of four competitive products, we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to compete, full and open, for such an award.”

FN Herstal, based in Belgium, is responsible for the execution of the first phase of the IDIQ contract. The Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Virginia, is the contracting activity.