Although the images above depict the previously announced STM556 from Steyr Mannlicher, the Austrian news site Kurier.at is announcing a new rifle – the RS556 – a possible contender to replace the G36 within the German “Bundeswehr” Armed Forces. In a partnership between the German corporation Rheinmetall Defense and the Austrian manufacturer Steyr Mannlicher, the RS556 will be submitted as a potential replacement for the embattled Heckler and Koch assault rifle.
With details slim at this point, it is unknown if the new rifle will actually resemble the STM556. However, the Kurier is reporting the RS556 will feature the following enhancements:
- Tool-less barrel replacement
- Three barrel length options
- Configurable as an assault rifle, light machine gun or a machine gun carbine.
- A “special surface coating” that allows the gun to work without gun oil
To date, neither the Steyr nor the Rheinmettall websites have been updated to include the RS556 or any details relating to the new partnership.
The announcement also includes languages that may absolve H&K from some financial liability surrounding the G36 to the German military.
From the Kurier.at (rough translation from German to English):
Through a cooperation project with the German armament giant Rheinmetall Defense, the Austrian armorer Steyr Mannlicher from Kleinraming hopes to find the best chances for a military order of the German Bundeswehr. The Bundeswehr must exchange all storm guns.
The Upper Austrian arms manufacturers had already existed in Germany in 1994 because their legendary Steyr Universal Gun AUG (Sturmgewehr 77) had by far the best values in the tender. But the German manufacturer Heckler & Koch in Oberndorf for his Sturmgewehr G36 got the contract for 176,544 military guns.
Compensation for damages
How far politicians had their hands in play is currently the subject of political discussions in Germany. For example, it turned out five years ago that plastic parts of the G36 are deficient. The German Ministry of Defense accused Heckler & Koch of damages.
This day, however, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen had to accept a court ruling, according to which Heckler & Koch does not have to pay any damages. Not because the weapon is okay. The problem lay with the tender text. The Bundeswehr had received what it had ordered. But of the Leyen still holds fast to their decision: All 167,000 Sturmgewehre, which are still present, are exchanged. This year the invitation to tender will go ahead.
The Steyr-Mannlicher bosses Ernst Reichmayr and Gerhard Unterganschnigg already have a newly developed AUG successor “Gewehr bei Fuß”. This time with a strong partner, namely the German Rheinmetall Group based in Düsseldorf. Mannlich and Rheinmetall will bring the new Sturmgewehr RS556 together on the market. The German partner can refer to a value-added share of 60 percent in the case of a possible federal redundancy, which greatly increases the chances of Steyr Mannlicher against the first round of 1994.
The new RS556 looks like a US-American weapon, but is the further development of the Steyr-Sturmgewehr 77. The barrel can only be replaced with a handle and without tools. Three run lengths are available. Depending on the length, the weapon can be used as a storm gun, machine gun or as a light machine gun. Due to a special surface coating, the rifle also works without gun oil, which is a big advantage especially for desert inserts. The former Sturmgewehr 77 also took over the gas pressure device and the rotary head closure.
The mounting rail corresponds to the NATO standard and can, as desired different optics and night vision devices and laser light modules record. It is also possible to mount a grenade with a caliber of 40 millimeters. There is no information about prices. The weapons of 1994 cost about 1,000 euros per piece.