German army selects Haenel MK 556 assault rifle to replace H&K G36

According to German Zeit online newspaper and other sources, among which The Firearms Blog, the German Ministry of Defense has selected the weapon that will replace the aging Heckler and Koch G36 assault rifle : the Thuringian manufacturer C.G. Haenel has won the contract for the delivery of 120,000 MK556 assault rifles to the Bundeswehr (German army), a contract worth around 245 million euros (over $290 million). The exact configuration of the weapons and the accessories they will be equipped with is still unconfirmed.
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Haenel MK 556 assault rifle (Picture source: C.G. Haenel)

The initial report came from the German Press Agency (DPA) and has been widely quoted : after almost six decades with Heckler & Koch, the result of the bidding process is undoubtedly both surprising and disappointing for Heckler & Koch that competed with its HK416 and HK433. In the bidding process initiated in 2017, C.G. Haenel presented a weapon that, in extensive tests, was somewhat better tailored to the requirements of the military and also proved to be economically advantageous. A third bidder – Sig Sauer – had withdrawn from the current tender. C.G. Haenel’s rifle also beat out the RS556, an entry from Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher.

This tender is a kind of a long saga, with ups and downs in the tender process, for budgetary, political, judicial and technical reasons. And again, the decision of the award is still subject to a possible complaint or judicial review proceedings, The Firearms Blog underlines.

C.G.Haenel is already supplying the Bundeswehr with its RS9 sniper rifle (designated the G29 in German service). The company belongs to the Merkel Group, which is part of EDGE (United Arab Emirates) that also owns Caracal

The MK 556 Gen2 is a short-stroke piston operated AR-based design available in 10.5, 12.5, 14.5 and 16-inch barrel lengths with a STANAG 4694 quad rail or 3 and 9 o’clock keymod mounting points and ambidextrous controls – a 45-degree rather than AR-pattern selector. The MK556 with a 16 inch barrel weighs in at 3.6kg (7.9 lbs).