Germany Selects C.G. Haenel MK556 To Replace Heckler & Koch G36

C.G. Haenel GmbH has been selected by the Bundeswehr to provide Germany’s next service rifle. The 5.56x45mm chambered, gas-piston operated Haenel MK556 beat competition from Germany’s most famous small arms manufacturer, Heckler & Koch. The new rifle will replace the Heckler & Koch G36, which has been criticised for reliability issues in recent years. The program to select a new rifle has not been without its challenges and has suffered delays since it began 2017.

The MK556 (or Maschinenkarabiner 556) was selected over H&K’s widely respected HK416 (which is in service with the USMC and French Army) and their newest rifle, the HK433. The eventual contract is expected to be worth in the region of $290 million and will provide some 120,000 rifles. Haenel is already supplying the Bundeswehr with the .338LM RS9 sniper rifle (designated the G29 in German service). Haenel are a part of the EDGE Group, headquartered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Bundeswehr’s Choices: Heckler & Koch HK433 vs Haenel Mk556

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defence released a statement confirming the selection, on 15th September, the machine translated statement can be read below:

“The “assault rifle” (System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr) award procedure has made another major step forward. From the now completed evaluation of the offers by the registration office of the procurement office in Koblenz, C.G. Haenel GmbH, limited liability company, emerged as the winner of the tender.

On May 14, 2020, the bidders remaining in the System Assault Rifle Basic Weapon award procedure were asked to submit a Best And Final Offer (BAFO). The deadline for submitting bids ended on June 15, 2020. The bids received from the bidders have meanwhile been evaluated by the contracting authority.

From this evaluation, the C.G. Haenel GmbH, a limited liability company, emerged as the winner of the tender. The result of the evaluation is not yet legally effective. Legal recourse is always open to unsuccessful bidders.

The decision of the registry is also subject to parliamentary approval in the context of the € 25 million bill. The documents required for this are currently being prepared, with the aim of a parliamentary referral at the end of 2020.”

A MK556 configuration shown on Haenel’s site (Haenel Defense)

There has not yet been any statement from Haenel themselves, however, H&K have released a statement addressing the news of the Bundeswehr’s selection. H&K CEO Jens Bodo Koch said:

“Subject to an extensive legal review, we regret this decision, …we are absolutely convinced of the quality of both the HK416 and the HK433. This quality has also been confirmed to us by the Bundeswehr in the context of this tender. We don’t have to shy away from competition with our products… We will now examine the decision in detail from a legal perspective and exhaust all legal options. ”

It seems likely that H&K will challenge the Bundeswehr’s decision. Overt Defense will continue to report on the story as it develops.

Additional reporting was provided by our colleagues at TFB.