SOCOM Cancels SCAR
The on-again, off-again SCAR program run by the U.S. Special Forces is off again. After several starts, the rumor-plagued program, which resulted in FN of Belgian being awarded a contract to produce two versions of the Special Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR), has been cancelled.
The Special Operations Command (SOCOM) redirected all funding for FY2011 from the SCAR-L (Light) Mk 16 in 5.56 mm to be used for the SCAR-H (Heavy). The SCAR-H Mk 17 is a 7.62 mm caliber rifle.
SOCOM buys all firearms for the various Special Operations components of the military: Navy SEALs, Army Green Beret, Air Force Ravens and Marines.
The SCAR program began in 2007 when SOCOM set about to improve the M4 carbine and, at the same time, create a standardized system that could fire .308 as well as foreign calibers, like 7.62x39 mm.
According to inside sources, the Navy SEALs were the main proponents of the SCAR and were issued more of them than any other Special Forces group.
During its development, the SCAR went through a number of changes and modifications, which prompted an endless stream of rumors in the industry, before the military finally settled on the SCAR-L and SCAR-H versions in 2007.
The very purpose of SCAR-L Mk 16 was doomed from the start because its raison d’etre was ostensibly to replace the M4 carbine, and since it fired the same 5.56 mm NATO cartridge and took a 30-round magazine, it offered neither better lethality nor improved firepower over Colt’s M4. After much fussing and fiddling, SOCOM had done nothing more than window dress an M4.
The SCAR-H, on the other hand, was intended as a replacement for a variety of .308 caliber sniper systems. Ironically, it is the “other” SCAR that is receiving funding while the primary gun is falling onto the dust heap along with other “new and improved” military rifles.
The SCAR features a short-stroke, gas operating system. The upper receiver is aluminum and houses a free-floating barrel. The lower receiver is polymer to reduce weight. Both versions can be equipped with different barrel lengths to suit missions ranging from close-quarters-battle to sniper missions.
The rifles can be equipped with 10-, 14- or 18-inch barrels for the Mk 16 and a 13-, 16- or 20-inch barrel for the heavier Mk 17. Each of these can be changed out by the shooter in minutes, FN officials say. The Mk 16 uses a 30-round magazine; the Mk 17 uses a 20-rounder. Eighty percent of the parts are common to both the light and heavy versions to reduce long-term maintenance costs, FN officials say.
The SCAR has never been produced in great numbers. One source says less than 1,000 Mk 16s have been fielded in Afghanistan. The 75th Ranger battalion was set to deploy with Mk 16s before this announcement, but that elite unit numbers less than 700 men. It is not known if the Rangers will still deploy with the SCAR or go back to their M4.
Stay tuned for developments from the Insider as more details on this breaking news story unfold.