The U.S. military has issued a Request For Information (RFI) to firearms manufacturers looking for a 7.62 NATO battle rifle to be placed into service. The contract’s been dubbed the “Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR)” or more formally, opportunity W15QKN-17-X-0A1V). It’s an attempt by the military to fill “a potential gap in the capability of ground forces and infantry to penetrate body armor using existing ammunition.”
To address this operational need, the Army is looking for an Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) that is “capable of defeating emerging threats.” In other words, 5.56 NATO isn’t cutting the mustard and the military wants to go back to 30 caliber weapons.
The requirements for the platform sound oddly familiar:
• The rifle must be a Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) system readily available for purchase today. Modified or customized systems are not being considered.
• Caliber: 7.62x51mm
• Available barrel lengths, to include 16 and 20 inch barrels, without muzzle device attached.
• Muzzle device capable of or adaptable to auxiliary devices for:
— Compensation of muzzle climb
— Flash suppression
— Sound Suppression
• Fire Control: Safe, Semi-automatic, and fully automatic capable.
• All controls (e.g. selector, charging handle) are ambidextrous and operable by left and right handed users
• Capable of mounting a 1.25 inch wide military sling
• Capable of accepting or mounting the following accessories.
— Forward grip/bi-pod for the weapon
— variable power optic
• Detachable magazine with a minimum capacity of 20 rounds
• Folding or collapsing buttstock adjustable to change the overall length of the weapon
• Foldable backup iron sights calibrated/adjustable to a maximum of 600 meters range
• Weight less than 12lb unloaded and without optic
• Extended Forward Rail
There are only one or two weapons that fit that specification at the moment that come to mind: Knight’s Armament’s SR-25 line of AR-10 rifles and the FN SCAR 17 platform.
The SR-25 has been in service since 1990 as a semi-automatic medium range weapon for designated marksmen, but the longer overall length has kept it from being deployed in the close range “door kicker” type roles.
That’s really where the SCAR 17 was designed to fill a need, providing the raw power of 7.62 NATO in a maneuverable package. That firearm is currently in use with SOCOM units, although only on a per mission basis and not offered for widespread use.
For my money it sounds like this is a shot by the military at bringing the SCAR 17 into the fold. Instead of procuring one-off weapons and limited availability, this is an opportunity for the military to stock up on SCAR 17 rifles (now properly field tested and soldier approved) for widespread deployment. We shall see.