Military.com is reporting that the United States Military's Special Operations Command has "abruptly" decided to cancel the Mk-16 (5.56mm) variant of the SOCOM Combat Assault Rifle - the SCAR. The heavier Mk-17 (7.62mm) version will, however, remain in the current arms inventory.
According to the Military.com report, SOCOM officials say the SCAR rifle in 5.56mm does not "provide enough of a performance advantage over the M-4 to justify spending USSOCOM's limited...funds when competing priorities are taken into consideration."
Instead of the SOCOM rifle, there will be additional Mk-17 variants using the 7.62mm NATO round (.308), enhanced grenade launchers, and new Mk-20 Sniper Support Rifles purchased.
The decision puts the brakes on a six-year project to develop a new rifle that was designed from the ground-up for the military. It will undoubtedly set off another raging debate between decision-makers and the people inside the program who felt the SCAR in 5.56mm offered more flexibility, a better operating system (piston) and better performance in "dusty environments"- like the desert and mountain theaters where troops are currently deployed.
Just over a month ago, FNH, the builder of the SCAR rifle, announced they had cleared the final requirement hurdles and were going into production on both systems. Those rifles were scheduled to be issued in a Mk 16 CQC (Close Quarters Combat), Mk16S (standard), and Mk16LB (long barrel) configuration.
Instead, orders have been issued from SOCOM to turn in the approximately 850 Mk-16s currently deployed to Army Rangers, SEAL units and Naval Special Warfare Combat-Craft crewmen.