Canadian Procurement – US FMS – Armament for CH-146 Griffon – June 2011
Mounts & Parts for GAU-12 Machineguns for CH-146 Griffons
US Foreign Military Sale Notice via FBO a US
version of MERX
The GAU-12 is an aircraft version of the CF's venerable Browning M2HB. This faster-firing heavy machinegun is
descended from the US WWII-era aircraft gun, the M3. But the series is now manufactured only by Belgium's FN Herstal
as its M3M a fixed-gun version being the M3P. In Canadian service, the FN Herstal M3M is referred to
by its US military designation, GAU-21.
Canadian GAU-21 machineguns are indirectly a part of the INGRESS
(Interoperable Griffon Reconnaissance Escort Surveillance System, a sensor upgrade for the CF's CH-146
Griffon utility helicopter fleet. CH-146s are militarized Bell 412s, a type that the M3M is already
integrated on, using FN's Medium External Pintle system. That MEP consists of the 12.7mm M3M heavy machinegun,
Medium Pintle Head (MPH) which includes a 'soft mount', and one Medium External Pintle Connection (MEPC).
Although filed here as an FMS notice, no notice appeared on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Instead, it
was published as a Federal Business Opportunity. The FBO notice mentions "FMS Canada case number CN-P-DAE" but
it probably didn't need to be published because of a relatively small dollar value
the benefit to procurement officers who break up weapon purchases into manageable chunks.
Note that the FBO notice doesn't actually cover the purchase of new M3M weapons, rather it mentions production of
the MPH, supply of sixty gun barrels (a cost of the GAU-21's high rate of fire), and tools and support
for these weapons in CF service. The actual procurement agency is the US Navy NavAir which has acted as go-between
on numerous DND weapons purchases for Afghanistan. But there's the rub. Our Kandahar combat operations are over.
So, why introduce a new weapon as combat ends?
Another INGRESS-related weapons system, the M134D
MiniGun, was subject to a rushed ACAN purchase to get these modern 'Gatling guns' to Kandahar with the
deployed Griffons. It is curious that the GAU-12 buy was approached so leisurely.
An edited version of the FBO notice (from the US DSCA) is reproduced below:
Defense Security Cooperation Agency
On the web: http://www.dsca.mil
Media/Public Contact: (703)
May 17, 2011 7:16 am
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) intends to enter into sole source neg- otiations with FN Herstal, SA for a
firm-fixed price contract for the procurement of:
(a) sixty (60) GAU-21 .50 caliber machine gun barrels and the related supplies
for their manufacture and fleet deployment;
(b) production of the Medium Pintle Head (MPH) for the CH-146 [Griffon];
(c) Operators and Armorer tool kits; and
(d) engineering and logistics technical support for the operation, maintenance,
and repair of these weapons and systems.
This requirement is for FMS Canada case number CN-P-DAE. Unless otherwise stated herein, no
formal request for proposal or additional written information is currently available... This synopsis is published
for information purposes only. (THIS NOTICE IS NOT A REQUEST FOR COMPETITIVE PROPOSALS).
The proposed contract action is for supplies or services for which the Government intends to solicit and negotiate
with only one source under authority of FAR 6.302.
[ ... ] FN Herstal is the sole designer, developer, and
manufacturer of the GAU-21 machine gun, and ... is the only known source available with the
requisite technical knowledge, experience and tooling to produce the requirements described herein in order to
satisfy the government's requirement. [ ... ] Subcontracting opportunities should be sought directly from
FN Herstal [ ... ] B-4040 Herstal, Belgium [ ... ].