On 3 August, 2017 the US Army released a solicitation for the purchase of an Interim Combat Service Rifle. chambered in 7.62mm NATO. This rifle could ultimately replace the M-4 carbines in combat service. SOCOM has previously fielded the SCAR Heavy in this role.
While the solicitation is open to any design, the only viable contenders appear to be those already in government service. The financial burden of developing a new rifle for a 50,000 gun contract doesn’t make business sense. Looks like the Army will chose between an AR-10 variant and a descendant of the Belgian FN-FAL.
The solicitation says:
The Army has identified 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. The Government has a requirement to acquire a commercial 7.62mm ICSR to field with the M80A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) to engage and defeat protected and unprotected threats. The ultimate objective of the program is to acquire and field a 7.62mm ICSR that will increase Soldier lethality.”
According to soldiersystems.net, last week the Army’s G8, the Deputy Chief of Staff for new equipment procurement, LTG John M Murray fired the three rifles already in government service which might meet the requirements for the ICSR program: the Knight’s Armament M110 (SR-25), Heckler & Koch M110A1 (G28) and Fabrique Nationale Herstal Mk17 (SCAR Heavy).
One advantage of a 7.62 system is that they can be easily upgraded to 6.5 Creedmore or another advanced cartridge by simply re-barreling. It will take the Army many years to develop and test a new round.