Air Force Follows Navy in Adopting New Army Sidearm
Military.com |30 Mar 2018 |By Matthew Cox


Compact XM18 MHS (U.S. Army Photo)

The U.S. Air Force confirmed Thursday that it will field 130,000 of the Army's Modular Handgun System to replace its existing inventory of 9mm M9 pistols.

"We've started the procurement process and plan to buy approximately 130,000 weapons," Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews told Military.com in an email.

"As a joint partner in this endeavor, we determined the [X]M18 MHS, the compact version, will best meet the Air Force mission needs, and selected it as the standard handgun for all Air Force users," she wrote.

The Army awarded Sig Sauer an MHS contract worth up to $580 million in January 2017. The 10-year MHS agreement calls for Sig Sauer to supply the service with full-size XM17 and compact XM18 versions of its 9mm pistol.

The Air Force's decision follows similar moves by the Navy and Marine Corps to select MHS.

The Navy plans to field 60,000 XM18s, and the Corps budgeted money in its proposed fiscal 2019 budget to purchase 35,000 MHS pistols. Marine Corps Systems Command officials declined to comment on the budget submission.

The Marine Corps may also be leaning more toward the smaller XM18 model, according to a "sources sought" solicitation posted on FedBizOpps.gov on Feb. 13.

"The Program Manager Individual Combat and Equipment, Marine Corps Systems Command, is seeking industry input that identifies potential sources for holster sleeve for the Modular Handgun System (P320 Sig Sauer handgun) Compact ([XM18]) version," the solicitation states.

Companies have a deadline of March 30 to submit concept proposals, the solicitation states.

The Air Force selected only the XM18 rather than both MHS models because "a single model handgun simplifies procurement, sustainment, and reduces support equipment cost while ensuring commonality with other services," McAndrews said.

The striker-fired MHS pistols can be outfitted with suppressors and accommodate standard and extended-capacity magazines. There is also an accessory rail for mounting accessories such as weapon lights.

The Coast Guard has also placed an order to purchase MHS, according to according to Tom Taylor, chief marketing officer for Sig Sauer.

Military.com has contacted the Coast Guard for comment but has not received a response yet.

This is not the first time the services have agreed to adopt a common pistol. The Army selected the M9 in 1985 to replace the .45 caliber 1911A1, and the M9 soon became the sidearm for entire U.S. military.

The Army intends to purchase 195,000 MHS pistols, mostly in the full-size XM17 version.

Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta, in the MHS competition, an effort the Army launched in late August 2015. It appears that Sig's victory may have formally ended Beretta's 30-year hold on the U.S. military's sidearm market.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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