On October 9th, following a complaint lodged by Heckler & Koch, the Federal Ministry of Defense of Germany canceled the order for 120.000 Haenel MK 556 assault rifles that would have replaced the controversial G36 as the Bundeswehr's service rifle. What now?
In our article about the news of the Haenel MK 556 winning the trial tests as new service rifle for the German Armed Forces, we concluded with a few lines in which we openly stated that we suspected things would not exactly go as smoothly as Haenel would have wanted to.
Call it a hunch, but apparently we had it right: on October 9, an official press release announced the German Ministry of Defense's decision to cancel the procurement contract for 120.000 Haenel MK 556 assault rifles as per the trial.
In the press release, the German MOD quotes potential patent infringements by Haenel in the development of the MK 556, of which the BAAINBw – the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support – was officially notified by losing bidder Heckler & Koch on September 30.
On October 6, the German edition of the well-known business and financial information website Business Insider had leaked some details of Heckler & Koch's complaint lodged in court against the results of the trial – a 300-plus pages long document quoting over sixty critical issues in the entire procedure. While other German press sources such as the Tagesspiegel stress on the potential patent infringement issues as a reason for the contract cancellations, Heckler & Koch's complaint reportedly accuses C.G. Haenel of winning the contract by illegal price dumping.
The document would also reportedly raise national security concerns tied to the fact that C.G. Haenel is owned by the Tawazun Holding, itself controlled by the State-owned sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates.
On their website, the German broadcaster Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk reports the German Ministry of Defense stating that they will now have to "reevaluate the offers, taking any and all aspects under consideration". It's yet to be seen if these "reevaluations" will only touch the economic and cost-effectiveness side of the deal, or if this will open the door to a new series of trials.
What's for certain is that the controversial Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle will not see replacement as the standard service weapon of the Bundeswehr for the near future.