Rheinmetall and Steyr Partner for Rifle Contract

RS556

SHAH ALAM: Rheinmetall and Steyr. Back in 2006 when the Army announced it was adopting the Colt M4 Carbine, many including myself criticised the decision saying it was a move in the wrong direction. Most of the criticisms were about adopting an M16/AR-15 pattern when every body else were ditching it.

For me, it was mostly about the “local production and exporting” fantasy that became the reason for the adopting the firearm and also of reports of the US ditching the M4 – which at that time – were very credible.

With the benefit of hindsight, my concerns about the “fantasy” is truly justified while the M4 remained in service with the US forces although its now the M4A1 Carbine version just like the ones we bought from SME and Colt.

A typical Army platoon on the move with their rifles and other weapons. The unit is soldiers with the 4th RAMD at Eks Haringgaroo 15.

And although the M4 Carbine has become the standard rifle of the Armed Forces, other security agencies continue to be rather coy about the adopting the gun.

Two VAT69 operators at the 2015 open day. One is armed with a FN Herstal SCAR H for DMR while the other is armed with the Bushmaster Carbine.

Interestingly ten years after we decided on an M16/AR-15 pattern rifle, other countries have also done the same thing. France and New Zealand like us, ditch the bullpup design to the M16/AR-15 pattern rifles. The French chooses the piston-operated system HK416 while New Zealand chose the direct-impingement LMT CQB16.

RMAF personnel shooting the M4A1 Carbine, MAF Standard Rifle.

And now its likely that the M16/AR-15 pattern rifle may well be adopted by Germany. As you might be aware, Germany is looking to replace its HK G36 assault rifles.

Hk G36 Carbine

In September last year, H&K won a court case against the government. From Reuters

A German court ruled on Friday that the government has no right to compensation from Heckler & Koch (IPO-HIK.L) for what Berlin has said were faulty assault rifles, handing a victory to the gunmaker.

Berlin has said that the G36 rifle, which is standard issue for militaries across the globe and has been used by the German army for nearly 20 years, does not shoot straight in hot weather or when it heats up through constant firing.

The first suggestions that the gun might be faulty date back to April 2010, when 32 Bundeswehr paratroopers were ambushed by Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan. Three German soldiers were killed in a nine-hour firefight. The G36 was reported to have overheated, forcing the Germans to retreat.

Berlin, which has bought about 180,000 of the rifles since 1996, eventually decided to replace the G36 as the German army’s standard rifle from 2019 and sought compensation for some rifles it had received from Heckler & Koch.

While HK is also expected to bid for the new rifle tender, likely with the 416, it will faced stiff competition from other manufacturers. Steyr (the manufacturer of the AUG) has teamed up with Rheinmetall to offer another M16/AR-15 pattern rifle for the tender.

RS556. Steyr/Rheinmetall picture

Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher offer new RS556 assault rifle system
Two of Europe’s most respected defence companies, Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher, have joined forces to manufacture and market the RS556 modular assault rifle. This German-Austrian cooperation project adds a key item to Rheinmetall’s growing array of infantry products.
The RS556 is based on the highly regarded STM556, which Steyr Mannlicher first unveiled in 2012. Outstanding modularity characterizes this easy-to-use, future-proof 5.56mm x 45 cal. weapon.

This innovative weapon is a possible candidate for the new “System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr”: The German armed forces intend to replace their standard G36 assault rifle with a more advanced system starting in 2019.

RS556

Featuring an adjustable short-stroke gas piston system and rotating bolt, the gas-operated RS556 is based on the tried-and-tested Steyr Mannlicher AUG, or Universal Army Rifle, a design concept that has proven itself in decades of service on every continent.

With a 16″ barrel (406 mm) and a fully loaded, 30-round magazine, the RS556 weighs around 4.2 kilograms, just over 9 pounds. The adjustable-length light-weight stock clicks into seven different positions, meaning that operators can adjust the RS556 to match their individual equipment profile in optimum fashion.

RS556 with optic mounted. Steyr/Rheinmetall

In a matter of seconds and without tools, the hammer-forged barrel can be easily exchanged. This means that the RS556 can be readily modified for various missions. The RS556 features several standard and optional NATO accessory rails with receiver systems designed in accordance with MIL-STD-1913, STANAG 2324 and STANAG 4694.

This means that the weapon can be fitted with various optics and night observation devices or laser light modules. A 40mm grenade launcher can also be mounted on the new assault rifle.

So will the RS556 have any future in Malaysia? Your guess is as good as mine.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

18 Comments

  1. This is my take…actually bullpup rifles are a bit cumbersome especially while wanting to make a quick magazine change..u either raise the barrel up hi to change the magazine or tilt the rifle sideways…with todays technology short rifle or carbine that can have an effective range of 500 mtr is easy to come by.like i have said it previously the armed forces is making the right decision to buy M4 as a national rifle…easy to strip n assamble…the furniture is able to be interchange that suits users fancy

  2. 2 key points to consider :

    – The AUG was not replaced because it was inadequate or because the army decided a ”better” rifle was needed but because of other reasons; namely SME’s break with Steyr that affected SME’s ability to provide spares and to offer an improved version of the AUG. If the relationship hadn’t been severed the plan was to produce the AUG 3 for the MAF. One was displayed at DSA fitted with an M20A3 and a picatinny rail with SME publicly announcing that it would soon produce the AUG 3.

    – I have no idea what other rifles were trialed and whether the army even recommended the M-4 [the decision was largely political] but we can be sure that Colt’s agreeing to have it licensed produced played a major part in the M-4 being selected. This is history repeating itself again as Steyr agreeing to have the AUG licensed produced here played a major part in it being selected. The army had originally recommended the M16A2 but getting the go ahead to have it produced here was problematic. Apart from the AUG and the M16A2 the FNC and FAMAS were also trialed.

    The biggest joke is that troops had a rifle with a built in scope replaced with one that has only iron sights. A question that remains unanswered is why haven’t we fitted any M-4s with an M20A3, preferring instead to continue using M16 for that purpose?

  3. Those ergonomic reasons aside, bullpups generally come with greater weight and less crisp trigger pull.

    Redsot,

    “i have said it previously the armed forces is making the right decision to buy M4 as a national rifle…easy to strip n assamble…the furniture is able to be interchange that suits users fancy”

    Interesting choice of reasons you gave. Yes, Short Barrel Rifles can scratch 500 meters but we don’t train shooters to that range at all. Infantry engagements don’t take place at that range, perhaps sometimes in Afghanistan with DShKs and AT4s but with small arms and not here.

    Bullpups are no more difficult to strip and clean than a conventional rifle. And here we don’t change any furniture- Stanman wrote a post on how we are not selecting the right accessories for M4.

    I personally take issue with our choice of handguard which is known to trap heat and cause overheating in Iraq. Considering our hot climate, I would hate to find ourselves in a G36 situation that goes undetected until too late.

    There’s been a growing retreat from bullpups, as well as several countries that adopted them in limited numbers or evaluated and never adopted them at all. Mostly because of the ergonomics and because 20 inch barrels are unnecessary. Even countries with bullpups often have conventional rifles in their SOF units.

  4. Azlan

    “A question that remains unanswered is why haven’t we fitted any M-4s with an M203, preferring instead to continue using M16 for that purpose”

    We have, the pictures are online. In both short and long barrel M203 versions.

    Doing without an AUG mounted M203 throughout those years was disappointing.

  5. From my point of view, the main upgrades for our m4a1 that is needed before all the other add ons are

    – Heavy barrel like the 921HB version
    – Free floating barrel handguard
    – Back-up iron Sight
    – Ferfrans RRS (just a personal idea)
    – Effective sling mount

    Again everything need fulus. And this is just my personal preferences.

  6. Those acog sights are not “built in” tho. M4A1 came with flat tops (the carry handle is removeable unlike in M16A1) so to save cost, it’s natural for the bean counters to opt out the optics (afaik those acog optical sight cost about the same as the production cost of the rifle itself)

  7. AM – ”Even countries with bullpups often have conventional rifles in their SOF units.”

    Indeed, pic showing Aussie special forces and SAS and SBS men in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan show them with M4s rather than AUGs or SA80s.

    AM – ”We have, the pictures are online”

    Thanks for mentioning this. I had no idea. The question then is why the need for an underslung launcher when BIS sections have a Milkor MGL?

    I suppose the key to understanding what we’ve done with the M4 or rather what we haven’t is to ask : who has more influence; the army or the local industry?

  8. Small arms witheffective range of a good distance is good to have…especially when push became a shove it can be converted to sharpshooter rifle with a good sighting scope..it can become a spotter rifle to pinpoint enemy position for positive indentification ( with a tracer round of course)and many more users its up to ur imagination to keep ur man alive during an ambush or sniper attack….lastly ur men have a rifle that keep enemy away incase being engaged at a distance further than 300 mtr…anything is possible dude no enemy will shy away if either side spotted each other at such distance…

  9. Azlan

    “The question then is why the need for an underslung launcher when BIS sections have a Milkor MGL?”

    I’m pretty oblivious to the composition of BIS sections so I should ask- is the Milkor MGL in universal issue to BIS sections, and do any Milkor equipped sections also have the M203?

    In the AUG days, I have seen pictures of Milkor equipped sections and M16-M203 equipped sections, but never in the same picture so I don’t know if there were sections issued with both.

  10. AM,

    1 LMG, 1 Milkor, 1 M-16/M4 with a M20A3 and one RPG. Impressive firepower but in a high intensity scenario we better have lots of reloads nearby. When taking into account that everyone in the section carries an M-4 and have their belt order [with spare ammo, grenades, comms, body armour [?] etc], helmets and other stuff; the BIS sections are quite ”heavy”. In the past someone was of the opinion that the firepower of the BIS sections should be improved. If that were to happen the sections would become even heavier!

    A problem faced with the BIS sections is that there’re too small [others face this problem also] with only 4 dedicated riflemen but then the size of the BIS sections are governed by the need to fit in an Adnan.

  11. Red Sot – ”Small arms witheffective range of a good distance is good to have…”

    Yes but the main factor at play will be the type of terrain that determines the range that engagements can take place.

  12. To be exact, the first time I saw a picture of the M4-M203 was CARAT 2015. It seems even today, the M4-M203 is not widely issued and is still outnumbered in recent pictures by the M16-M203.

    Only the long barrel M203 appears to be in use by the army. However PASKAL has the short one on their Bushmaster C15s.

    Btw, recently someone here reported seeing a 9mm AR platform but could not identify it. I believe this might be it.

  13. Thanks for the pointer. It was quite recent we were talking here about a section with 2 RPGs. Have there been changes or all along more than one configuration?

    This was the section David Boey reported from a demonstration in 2010:

    “From left, we see a Sergeant with a six-shot Milkor MGL (multiple grenade launcher); rifleman with a 5.56mm AUG assault rifle, a section machine gunner with a M249 Minimi Squad Automatic Weapon with 200-round box magazine, two riflemen with AUGs (ammo carriers for the RPGs), two RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade gunners and a section signaller with an AUG.”

    I was also asking if the Milkor is universally issued, because pictures of it seem extremely rare. And if so, if sections with it also have the M203.

    The Milkor itself is a very heavy weapon to carry (in addition to your rifle) and I wonder if it is necessary to have this capability over the M203. Of course, those who advocate static firepower at the expense of mobility, endurance and sustained firepower considering ammunition expenditure will agree.

  14. AM,

    PASKAL or PASKAU? I wasn’t ware of PASKAL having Bushmasters. PASKAU has Bushmasters but it’s safe to assume they’re mostly stored now as the unit has received SG-553s with GL 5040 launchers.

    Reply
    These were the police

  15. Azlan: “PASKAL or PASKAU? I wasn’t ware of PASKAL having Bushmasters. PASKAU has Bushmasters”

    I wasn’t aware either until I saw it: http://imgur.com/a/sHaSj Caption on this photo reads “Combat diver from Paskal KD Panglima Hitam armed with Bushmaster Carbon 15/M203 and B&T MP-5.”

    Earlier I mentioned seeing a 9mm AR platform (someone else also brought it up recently). Here is the pic: http://imgur.com/a/ChGxh

  16. AM,

    Many of PASKAL’s ”exotic” arms were either provided by the OEM/local agent or acquired in small numbers for trials and then placed in storage but people tend to get excited when they see pics of ”exotic stuff like G-36s and XM8s. Same applies to most similar units which tend to get more leeway in selecting their own gear.

    I have a pic of a MG-3 [taken in the 1990’s and probably a POF one] carried for a PR pic and I’ve seen an Ameli, P90 and AT4 on display. Marhalim has seen Valmets. If I had to guess, I think PASKAL mainly uses the M4 and HK416 on ops. In the past PASKAL also had a batch of A101s [seen being used for OPFOR purposes during anti-piracy exercises] but we don’t see any pics of those anymore. One former PASKAL guy said he never saw the AK101s during his time :]

  17. Azlan “If I had to guess, I think PASKAL mainly uses the M4 and HK416 on ops.”

    I would agree, especially because the exotic arms are not around in sufficient numbers to equip an operational element and there hasn’t been training on it.

    Why is it necessary to run so many “trials” and across such a small wide variety of arms? And wouldn’t it be sufficient to borrow or rent these weapons for a trial?

    The idea of buying AK101s just for OPFOR purposes is bizarre.

    Reply
    Just like other SF units, Paskal has the need to train its operators all sort of firearms they might encounter during operations, hence the small number of exotic weapons in their arsenal. Unlike the US we cannot afford tons of this things.

  18. AM – ”especially because the exotic arms are not around in sufficient numbers to equip an operational element and there hasn’t been training on it.”

    The RMN has released pics of G-36s being used in the Gulf of Aden. Quite often [I’m not suggesting this is the case with the
    G-36s] when spares run out the said weapon or equipment is stored. No sense in buying spares when it was never the intention to use the said weapon or equipment on a permanent basis. In the 1990’s PASKAL received a few British made submersibles[based on a zodiac with outboard engines that could go underwater] which I was told was given free by an oil & gas company. When spares eventually ran out, they stopped using it. No great loss here as it wasn’t very useful to have – the TNI also had a few and ditched them.

    AM – ”Why is it necessary to run so many “trials” and across such a small wide variety of arms? And wouldn’t it be sufficient to borrow or rent these weapons for a trial?”

    It’s common practice with all similar units worldwide so the unit in question has a better understanding on what’s new on the market and how it compares to stuff they have. In the 1970’s and 1980’s the unit that was responsible for trials of various stuff [more often than not stuff provided free by OEMs/local agents] was Gerak Khas.

    AM – ”The idea of buying AK101s just for OPFOR purposes is bizarre.”

    There can be a profound difference between the reason in buying something and the way it eventually ends up being used. Given that we had AK101s it made sense to use them for OPFOR.

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