Senator Schumer: Army Secretary McHugh supports opening M4 contract to Remington Arms

ILION, N.Y. - On Monday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that Secretary McHugh has agreed to accept the recommendation of the Army’s top equipment procurement official and open up competition for the Army’s small arms contracts to other U.S. manufacturers.

The decision will open up the Army’s small arms contracts to domestic producers across the country like the Ilion, New York based Remington.

Schumer said that more competition for the Army’s small arms contracts would likely spur innovation as more producers would have an incentive to manufacture technologically advanced products that best aid our troops in the field.

Currently, only Defense LLC, General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, and FNH Manufacturing are allowed to compete for small arms parts contracts.

In May, Schumer wrote to Secretary McHugh, asking him to accept the recommendation to open up competition for the small arms contracts. Schumer also introduced legislation that would require the Army to open up competition for the contract, but said that an administrative decision would be the quickest way to go.

“Secretary McHugh’s approval of our request is one of the final, and most difficult, hurdles that we had to overcome in ensuring that Remington can compete for major army contracts,” said Schumer. “More competition should mean better products for our soldiers at better prices for taxpayers, and Remington has been chomping at the bit to provide our soldiers with their top quality equipment and it was grossly unfair for them to have been excluded. We’ve come a long way in correcting this wrong, and we are almost across the goal line.”

Schumer said the broad array of challenges that the U.S. military has faced since 9/11 has brought about a comprehensive overview of the equipment that individual soldiers use in the field. As part of its comprehensive review the Department of the Army has appointed Brigadier General Peter Fuller to be the Army’s Program Executive Officer (PEO) Soldier.

As PEO Soldier, General Fuller has undertaken an examination of the resources that our troops are given in the field to determine if the Army should take new steps to ensure that our soldier’s have the best equipment.

Recently, General Fuller recommended a change to the Army’s Small Arms Production Industrial Base Program (SAPIB) which is responsible for supplying troops with small arms like the M-4 Carbine which is the military’s primary battle rifle used in combat. The current structure of the program only allows a small number of domestic producers to compete for the SAPIB contract- Colt Defense LLC, General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, and FNH Manufacturing.

As part of his effort to ensure our troops have the best equipment possible, General Fuller has recommended a change to the SAPIB program which would open up the Army’s small arms contract to more domestic manufacturers. More precisely, the Army is seeking to improve the M-4 Carbine which sees action in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, Army Secretary John McHugh has accepted General Fuller’s recommendation, and has forwarded the Army’s recommendation to open up the contract to the office of the Secretary of Defense.

The decision will open up the Army’s small arms contract to domestic producers across the country, particularly Ilion’s own Remington.

Remington Arms Company, Inc. produces and sells sporting goods products for the hunting and shooting sports markets, as well as military, government and law enforcement markets.

Founded in 1816 in Upstate New York, the company is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating manufacturers. The Remington plant based in Ilion has been a staple of the region for years and just last week announced the addition of 100 new jobs.

The opportunity to compete for a lucrative Army contract will only further bolster the company’s position potentially leading to new job growth and economic expansion in Central New York.

The Ilion plant has developed a national reputation for quality and efficiency and would certainly present a credible proposal to the Army as it seeks to improve soldier equipment and spend funds more efficiently. Specifically, the Ilion manufacturing center’s specialty in developing the M-4 Carbine will be a huge boost to the Army as they seek to improve a weapon that is widely used in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The full text of Schumer’s May letter to Secretary McHugh is below.

May 25th, 2010

The Honorable John McHugh

Secretary of the Army

1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-1400

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I am writing to urge the Army to support increased competition for military small arms contracts. Currently, the Defense Small Arms Production Industrial Base (SAPIB) (10 USC 2473) restricts competition for critical spare parts, including barrels, bolts and receivers, to three companies (Colt Defense LLC, General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, and FNH Manufacturing). Significantly, the list excludes several domestic small arms manufacturers, that likely present viable, cost effective and competitive options that may be worthy of consideration. As I am sure you are aware, competition enhances innovation in small arms technology and increases the likelihood of reducing overall costs.

Accordingly, I urge the Department of the Army to review all policies and acquisition plans that may currently serve as a barrier to competition. More specifically, I ask you to strongly consider the waiver request to 10 USC 2473 recently requested by Brigadier General Fuller, Commander, PEO Soldier. This waiver is essential if the Army is to reap all the benefits possible in the competition to upgrade the M4 carbine.

I know that there is nothing more important to our war fighters on the ground than their assigned weapon. Therefore, I support a full and open competition to select all new weapons and upgrades to currently fielded small arms, because competition results in better weapons for soldiers, a better value to the DOD, and encourages innovation in the small arms industry.

I applaud the Department’s efforts to compete its acquisition programs, and I hope in the near future this policy will be extended to include small arms procurements. I appreciate your attention to this very important matter and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer

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