This is intended for people interested in the subject of military guns and their ammunition, with emphasis on automatic weapons.
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In a military with a few units that have high marksmanship standards there's easy ways to just keep funneling brand new guns to those elite units frequently and then cycling their older guns into the general service pool.
This is exactly what the US was doing with the m14ebr's during the early GWOT because the accurizing on the guns dropped out of spec extremely quickly with field use. In the case of the EBR's they had a floating supply of 3-5 times as many guns as needed cycling through the system at all times in order to keep enough accurized guns in the field.
What I'm suggesting isn't controversial at all, it's pretty much just what militaries do when they have a suboptimal gun that they're being forced to make it work with.
The G36 was adopted in the period after breakdown of communism, when everybody thought eternal peace had broken out. No more money for technologically challenging projects. "At last we can afford to buy cheap rifles."
Bundeswehr as well as HK (and many others) did send the old hands into retirement, getting rid of the voices who always criticised fancy management ideas for cutting corners. As an armament engineer from another company described the situation: "HK now has a young designer team, very capable nerds in Computer Aided Design, but without any practical experience in small arms use or design whatsoever." A natural consequence of our modern anti-gun societies.
The general situation is worsened by the downfall of publications in the small arms field (no more Chinn-like facts, only coffee table illustrations and marketing "facts") and the prevailing classification hysteria (keep our own young people and soldiers as ignorant as possible; all the facts they need to know they can learn from marketing). A neutral assessment of the Steyr AUG (more than a decade "old" to the youngsters at the time) strengths and weaknesses would not have been feasible in such an environment.
As you know, the details of Bundeswehr AUG test results versus G36 were never published.
And, as I said, HK was not the winner of Spanish program, at least under the testers' point of view
Had they preferred the AUG? And is there any more info on which models were considered in the Spanish program?
Its kind of an interesting firearms alternate history - had Germany and Spain gone with the AUG over the G36, the AUG could have ended up one of the dominant 'European Rifles.' And the AUG design itself would have experienced a much more rapid development / enhancement cycle.
I get your point about the g62 thing to a degree but if you look at the L85a2 and a3 saga, especially the cost factor, it quickly becomes apparent that often times fixing or overhauling a design beyond what should have been end of life can wind up being both obscenely more costly but also lengthy than just buying something off the shelf.
I think the L85 upgrade was a lot more torturous / a waste as the gun was out of production, so the parts had to be scratch produced as a one off, and also because the design itself was flawed and needed to be not just upgraded, but reworked internally.
That said, in both the L85 and the G36, no doubt getting a new rifle entirely would be optimal. But given the drama Germany has had with the replacement, and also the sort of transitory technological shift we may be in for this decade for firearms tech, an upgrade could be a prudent stopgap. Especially if Steyr is able to pull it off for a reasonable cost.
Upgrades, especially one this deep that requires a new receiver and other parts, are always going to cost more just by their very nature.
So think about this, when you decide to do an upgrade program you start pulling guns back to depots (that in itself costs money). You then start disassembling, gauging, sorting, and making lists of parts of each grade + parts you need to replace ones that come back out of spec. (Lots of money manpower, space, and time just in this step) you then with your pile of boxed up and separated out parts that are in varying conditions do what you can to refinish the parts that aren't utter crap(more time and money) you then gauge the parts again and sort them by where on the tolerance spectrum they fit(more of both again) you then get in the receivers and start assembling doing assembly qc factory testing and etc (more time and more money)
Finally you now have your pile of reassembled Frankenstein guns and you spend 3-12 months arguing with various units about which assembly grade of guns they should get back (more time and money)
I'm absolutely certain there's several intermediate steps I'm missing all of which will require time money personnel facilities and etc as well as the inevitable batches of guns you wind up buying to cover shortfalls so x or y unit can do thing z z1 & z2...
It's one of those situations that sounds good on paper to people who don't have a good hold on what something like this actually takes. To everyone who does though, it's pretty obviously a nightmare shit sandwich that's going to blow out both the budget and acceptable time interval badly in order to wind up with rifles that cost you twice as much as new ones without actually giving you the benefit of new guns.
Upgrade projects are often political and often go along these line ,politicians make money available , long as you are not buying new ,cost-efficacy is of little to no concern
Yeah, you get a feel for this given the full "optional" scope of the retrofit includes a new barrel, fore-end, mag well, etc. When you get to the point that all you're keeping of the original gun is the stock and trigger group, you're better off starting from scratch.
So think about this, when you decide to do an upgrade program you start pulling guns back to depots (that in itself costs money).
Hmm. Seems like a non-issue. Wouldn't the guns also be pulled back to depots in a replacement program, incurring the same costs?
In the replacement program you don't have to break down the guns sort and gauge the parts refinish them reorder out of spec pieces etc....
In a way going to a new rifle is "easier" on several fronts.
The expense situation could basically be a wash though. The one thing I'll say is that there's substantially less fun and interesting ways to fuck up a new gun over a bizarre we're basically going to replace everything but call it the same gun scenario.
Luckily for us we actually have a really good example of a shitshow exactly like this going on right now as we speak in the L85a3 situation which is somehow costing the Brits as much or more than HK gouges out of the USMC per 416!
(Around $2700 per gun for L85a3 and $3000 for 416's to the Marines)
Now If we look at what HK is charging the French per gun OTOH, which thanks to Emeric we know is right around half of what they charge the Marines, we can see that the British are quite literally paying twice as much per gun for a gun that's going to be actively worse than the 416.
What's really fun about this example is HK is doing the USMC contract the french contract and the Brit contract so we aren't even comparing apples to oranges!
The G36 is pretty much equally troubled to the L85 and the pitfalls are going to be much the same.
I personally hope the Germans are smart enough to acknowledge this cautionary tale and act accordingly.
(Around $2700 per gun for L85a3 and $3000 for 416's to the Marines) Now If we look at what HK is charging the French per gun OTOH, which thanks to Emeric we know is right around half of what they charge the Marines, we can see that the British are quite literally paying twice as much per gun for a gun that's going to be actively worse than the 416.
The USMC is paying much, much less now than 3000 $ per M27. I don't even know if they paid such a high price for the initial contract.