The award of the Bundeswehr's assault rifle is further delayed. The company CG Haenel, which originally won the competition but then lost it again due to a possible patent infringement, has now reprimanded the decision of the awarding authority in favor of the company Heckler and Koch and the exclusion of its own company from the further award procedure. This means that an award to Heckler & Koch may not take place until a legally binding decision has been made. The parties involved are the Bundeswehr awarding authority, the Federal Cartel Office's procurement chamber, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court and, as the last instance, the Federal Court of Justice.
While the decision deadlines for the first two instances are manageable with a maximum of eight weeks, after the courts have been called in, more years have to be set for the decision-making.
The drama surrounding the procurement of a new assault rifle began in 2015 when the then Federal Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen, made the very controversial decision to replace the G36 assault rifle. When the necessary Europe-wide invitation to tender was issued in 2017, no technically sufficient offers were initially received. A grace period made it possible for the improved weapons by CG Haenel and Heckler & Koch to be tested in 2019. It took until September 2020 for the Federal Ministry of Defense to announce the selection decision in favor of the MK556 assault rifle from CG Haenel.
The first legal round began with the complaint from Heckler & Koch, during which the selection decision was initially canceled. This round ended in March 2021 with the exclusion of CG Haenel from the award procedure. The Ministry of Defense considered - based on patent reports - Haenel's participation with the assault rifle offered as inadmissible.
With the complaint of this decision by CG Haenel, the second legal round began, the timing of which - as described above - is incalculable. Furthermore, the assault rifle cannot be ordered.
It is very doubtful whether this is really needed. Because the G36, which is to be replaced, is still regarded as a reliable and needs-based weapon. It has been judicially established that the rifle met the specifications on delivery. With retrofitting, the rifle could be adapted to the currently changed military requirements.
In view of the delays in procuring the successor, the G36 must be kept operational with technical measures. It would be fatal if the unclear situation at the successor had a negative impact on the technical and logistical support of the G36. During operations in particular, soldiers need the best possible rifle - also for their own protection.
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