After almost six decades with Heckler & Koch, the German Bundeswehr appears to have selected a new supplier for its assault rifle. TFB has followed the process closely and while the decision had been delayed we knew that a decision from the was due this autumn. We also knew that regardless of the outcome of the German Army’s choice the result would be of great importance for decades to come.
According to several sources (see bottom of page for reference) the German Ministry of Defense has chosen C.G. Haenel GmbH to supply the next German Assault Weapon. The initial report came from the German Press Agency (DPA) and has been widely quoted. At the time of writing neither the Bundeswehr nor Haenel have made official statements.
Haenel is already supplying the Bundeswehr with the Haenel RS9 sniper rifle (designated the G29 in German service), which we reported about on 2016. Despite this they have long been seen as the underdog in the Bundeswehr’s search for a new service rifle.
The total deal is probably worth in the region of 245 million euros (over $290 million) and will see the procurement of some 120,000 new firearms. As I am typing this article the Haenel homepage has crashed, most likely due to a server overload.
The bidding process started in 2017, and TFB has followed C.G. Haenel over the years, with several articles covering their products. The company belongs to the Merkel Group, which is part of the Tawazun Holding (United Arab Emirates). The group also owns Caracal.
Note that the decision of the award is still subject to a possible complaint or judicial review proceedings. The two companies – Heckler & Koch and C.G. Haenel – were reportedly informed of the decision very recently.
As it seems today, the MK556 from C.G. Haenel won over the Heckler & Koch HK416 and the HK433, both of which are believed to have been under consideration. It also beat out the RS556, an entry from Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher.
The “MK” stands for “Maschinenkarabiner” (Machine-Carbine) and was presented in 2017. As you can see in the pictures it follows the AR15 layout, but uses a short-stroke gas piston system with an adjustable gas system.
Just weeks ago, the author had the privilege of instructing some soldiers from an undisclosed unit, from another European nation, on the C.G. Haenel CR223 which is the civilian version of the MK556.
The exact configuration of the weapons and the accessories they will be equipped with is still unconfirmed. We will continue to monitor the story and report further as we gain confirmation of the selection and more details about the rifle itself.
For more in-depth coverage of the topic check TFB’s previous articles: