We have been following the development of the Bundeswehr’s ongoing efforts to procure a rifle for some time, now it has emerged that C.G. Haenel’s headquarters in Suhl have been visited by investigators on the orders of the Dusseldorf Regional Court. Investigators have reportedly moved to secure evidence for the patent infringement case between Haenel and Heckler & Koch.
The patent infringement allegations caused a scandal when the Bundesvwehr’s procurement office (BAAINBw) were forced to backtrack on their decision to select the Haenel MR556 as their next service rifle to replace the HK G36. As we have previously reported, Haenel won the contract as the lower bidder, however, the contract (believed to be worth over $290 million) for approximately 120,000 new rifles was withdrawn following Heckler & Koch’s allegation of patent infringement. The German defense ministry said:
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.
Allegedly, the German Army’s procurement office in Koblenz has viewed videos submitted by Heckler & Koch which show how components from Haenel’s CR223 can be interchanged with those of the HK416. This would seem to support Heckler & Koch’s claims that Haenel’s design infringes on their patents and intellectual property. Representatives from the court and the German Army’s Wehrtechnische Dienststelle (defense technical department) were reportedly present during the visit to Haenel’s factory.
It is believed that for the time being the Bundeswehr will continue to use the G36, it remains unclear if the tender will be refloated in the foreseeable future. They are likely awaiting the US Army’s decision on the Next Generation Squad Weapon programe which could shift the small arms paradigm significantly away from small-caliber, high-velocity rounds like 5.56x45mm towards magnum rounds like 6.8 NGSW. The program is being closely watched by a number of militaries whose small arms are nearing their life-cycle including the Germans and the UK.