US Army's 101st Airborne Division will receive the first batch of SIG Sauer P320 semi-automatic pistol, replacing the Beretta M9.
The P320 is aimed to eventually replace the Beretta M9 as the US Military’s standard service pistol, various local media reported Friday.
The $580 million, 10-year contract is expected to involve the purchase of more than 400,000 handguns, said military equipment organization Program Executive Office Soldier (PEO Soldier).
The Army will get 195,000, the Air Force 130,000, the Navy 61,000 and the Marines 35,000.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Power, leader of PEO Soldier's individual weapons division said, "It has increased lethality, faster target acquisition, better reliability."
SIG Sauer won the MHS contest that the Army and Air Force held in 2016 to select the M9's replacement. Twelve pistols were entered into the competition, and in January 2017 the Army announced SIG Sauer as the winner.
"The Army determined that this MHS (full size handgun, compact handgun, ammunition, and ancillary components) was the best value in terms of its performance capability, the terms and conditions of the vendor's proposal, and price," reads the accompanying media release.
Glock, another competitor, filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Considering the value and quanity of the contract, a protest from one of the runners-up was expected. However, the Army is free to continue to develop the specifics of the P320 roll-out until the GAO makes its ruling in early June.
"Our first fielding of this is going to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, by the end of the calendar year," Power said.
The 101st Airborne is one of the Army's most elite and famous units, nicknamed "the tip of the spear" by former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Some 1,400 members of the Division are currently deployed in Afghanistan in operations against al-Qaeda in Daesh.
The SIG Sauer is already in use by the Royal Thai Police, which purchased more than 150,000 of the handguns in 2015.
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