The Navy’s go-to division for special operations weapons and accessories procurement, Navy Surface Warfare Center Crane, is under fire from Oregon-based optics manufacturer Leupold & Stevens.
According to Soldier Systems Daily, the company filed an official protest with the Government Accountability Office regarding a contract between NSWC Crane and firearms giant Sig Sauer for the Squad-Variable Powered Scope (Second Focal Plane).
Sig was initially awarded the contract in October 2018 after submitting a version of its TANGO6 optic as part of the bid.
Crane’s Expeditionary Warfare section functions as the de facto small arms and accessories procurement and development house for US Special Operations Command’s various unconventional warfare units.
If all went according to plan, the new Sig scopes, officially dubbed the SU-293/PVS, would be used on SOCOM-operated M4 carbines at effective ranges of up to 600 meters.
Officials with Leupold declined to comment on the record. Representatives from Sig Sauer did not respond to requests for comment.
The protest has nothing to do with the product itself, and no mention was made of the SU-293/PVS′s capabilities, strengths or weaknesses. Instead, the protest revolves around a modification to the original contract which Leupold asserts is against the rules of the competition.
Leupold’s primary issue is with the adoption of a different reticle with Sig’s S-VPS winning bid, due to a shift in SOCOM’s changed preference for a Tremor8 etched and illuminated reticle instead of the wire reticle the SU-293/PVS first came with, according to a letter reportedly Leupold’s counsel and posted by Soldier Systems Daily.
Thanks to the change in requirements on SOCOM’s part, the modification to the scopes resulted in a $9.4 million addition to the S-VPS(SFP) contract, stacked on top of the $12.1 million which was awarded by Crane on the original winning bid — a jump of over 75% of the contract’s value.
Leupold’s protest hinges around the claim that a new competition should have been launched by Crane instead, and not doing so was a violation of the rules governing the solicitation and procurement of hardware by the government.
The GAO is set to investigate the matter, though no prospective timeline has been released.