Tag Archives: Foreign Military Sales

Welcome (back), M16A4

The humble original M16 was originally Armalite’s AR-15, and was first ordered for military service with a contract issued to Colt Firearms in May 1962 for the purchase of early Model 01 rifles to be used by Air Force Security Police.

Note, these guns had waffle-pattern 20-round mags, no forward assist, a thin 1:14 twist barrel, and the early three-prong flash hider.

Fast forward to the XM16E1, which became the M16A1 in 1967, and you started to come closer to the standard Army/Marine rifle used in Vietnam and throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. It used a forward assist and a 1:12 twist barrel.

By 1983, the M16A2 came about, it had a thicker barrel in front of the front sight, a modified flash suppressor (closed on bottom), a new polymer buttstock (lighter and stronger), faster barrel twist (from 1:12 to 1:7), and a spent case deflector for left-hand users. Considered downright vintage by the Army and Marines, the Navy still sports them these days.

M16A2- check
M9 in drop leg holster- check
Body armor- um, about that……

By 1998, the M16A4 was in play, primarily for the Marines, which had a removable carry handle, a Picatinny top rail to allow for optics, short rails on the handguard for accessories, and a 20-inch barrel with a 1:7 RH twist rate.

Note the size difference between the compact M4 Carbine, top, and the full-length M16A4 rifle, bottom. (Photos: Department of Defense)

Since the GWOT kicked off in 2002, the big shift over the years has been to move from the full-length M16 family to the more compact M4/M4A1 carbine, with its collapsible rear stock and stubby 14-inch barrel, leaving the increasingly old-school style rifle as something of a relic today. Heck, the Army for the past couple years has been very actively working on replacing their 5.56 NATO rifles and SAWs with a new 6.8mm weapon. 

Now jump to 2020, and the M16A4 is now apparently the Army’s designated rifle for Foreign Military Sales to equip overseas allies in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Nepal.

Colt and FN are competing in a contract to supply as much as $383 million smackers worth of M16A4s by 2025.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

A Bakers’ dozen ‘Near Coastal Patrol Vessels’ on tap

Meet the Near Coastal Patrol Vessel (NCPV), an 85-foot Damen 2606 design to be built in Louisiana for about $4.1 million a pop

Jeanerette, Louisiana-based Metal Shark just picked up a U.S. Navy contract to build Near Coastal Patrol Vessels (NCPVs) for United States partner nations through the Department of Defense Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

Details:

Metal Shark’s proposal was selected by Naval Sea Systems Command from a field of six competing shipyards.

Under the terms of the award, potentially worth upwards of $54 million, Metal Shark will build up to 13 85-foot Defiant-class welded aluminum cutters for the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and other United States partner nations. Additionally, Metal Shark will supply electro-optical infrared sensors, diagnostic equipment, in-country reactivation, crew familiarization, and test support to NCPV operators.

The new vessels are based on Damen Shipyards’ Stan Patrol 2606 design, tailored by Metal Shark to suit the requirements of the NCPV mission. The versatile cutter can accommodate a wide range of mission profiles including search and rescue, border patrol, police and customs duties, counter-narcotics operations, and securing waters of economic importance.

The company is also building 18 45-foot welded-aluminum patrol boats under FMS for the Vietnam Coast Guard, the first of which were delivered last month.

Curiously, Bollinger, also based in Louisiana, has built 73 87-foot Marine Protector class patrol boats (based on the Damen STAN 2600 design developed for the Hong Kong police) for the USCG, as well as a four-pack for the navies of Malta and Yemen at a price of $3.5 million each. Sure, there is likely some inflation that can be added to that but it would seem like the trade off is there for greater interoperability, especially on SOUTHCOM/Coast Guard Tradewinds missions.