The German government has withdrawn their order for 120,000 Haenel MK556 rifles. Last month C.G. Haenel were awarded a major contract to replace the Bundeswehr’s G36 service rifle. The Haenel MK556 was selected over the Heckler & Koch HK416 and HK433. Heckler & Koch subsequently filed an appeal of the decision and today it seems the contract has been withdrawn following investigation.
Neither the German government or the Bundeswehr have published a public statement yet. The grounds for the withdrawal of the contract (which is believed to be worth deal is probably worth over $290 million) have not yet been confirmed with German media reports suggesting patent infringement or irregularities in the tendering process.
The Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency has quoted the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) as saying “first became aware of a possible patent infringement by the company CG Haenel GmbH in a verifiable manner [therefore] award of the contract to the company CG Haenel is cancelled.” They are also quoted as saying that they will now “re-evaluate the offers, taking into account all aspects.”
Before the Haenel rifle’s selection the Bundeswehr’s rifle trials are believed to have narrowed the choice of rifles to Haenel’s MK556 and Heckler & Koch’s HK416 and HK433. This would seemingly leave the Bundeswehr with a choice of Heckler & Koch rifles.
Heckler & Koch launched their appeal against the initial selection of the Haenel rifle on 15th September. Subsequent reports from BusinessInsider.de suggest that HK submitted a 320-page document listing 60 reasons why they disagree with the German Army’s choice. Yesterday, BusinessInsider.de also reported that BAAINBw lawyers had found that there was a secret, and apparently unlawful, written agreement between the legal department of the BAAINBw and Haenel after the final round of bids had officially be submitted by the companies. How this relates the reported patent infringement issue is unclear. What is clear, however, is that Germany’s program to select a new service rifle has once again stalled and is mired in controversy.
The German Ministry of Defense has now released the statement which was earlier quoted in some German press articles, the full release can be found below (machine translated from German):
“On the basis of the request for a review by the company Heckler and Koch received by the 1st Federal Procurement Chamber at the Federal Cartel Office on September 30, 2020, the Federal Procurement Office (BAAINBwFederal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr) for the first time verifiable of a possible patent infringement by the company CG Haenel GmbHCompany with limited liability Knowledge.
The internal examinations initiated thereupon led to the result that a corresponding patent infringement by the bidder CG Haenel GmbHCompany with limited liability at the expense of the bidder Heckler and Koch cannot be ruled out.
Against this background, the federal awarding authority was required to send the information letter (Section 134 GWB) to the bidders about the intended award of the contract to the company CG Haenel GmbHCompany with limited liability cancel.
The federal awarding authority will thus re-evaluate the offers, taking all aspects into ac count.”