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Columbia Business Monthly

Firearm manufacturer FN America continues long-standing role as a supplier for the U.S. military

Dec 07, 2018 10:43AM ● By Kathleen Maris
By Anne Creed

For more than three decades, firearms manufacturer FN America has called Columbia home. During that time, the subsidiary of Belgium’s Fabrique Nationale Herstal has employed more than 3,500 people since opening its doors in 1979, according to Scot Fischer, vice president of operations at FN America. 

“Roughly 20 percent of employees have worked at FN for more than 20 years and 10 percent have worked at the company for 30 years or more,” Fischer adds. 

Today, the company currently employs more than 500 people at its Columbia production facility.

“(We have) a dedicated, hardworking team of skilled craftsmen and women who put their heart and soul into every firearm produced,” Fischer says. “FN has invested heavily in our employees and manufacturing capabilities throughout our 35-year history in Richland County, ensuring that our workforce and production facilities have the resources necessary to remain competitive.”

For the firearms manufacturer, close proximity to Fort Jackson has been a plus for the company, the largest supplier of small arms to the U.S. military. “We have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the command,” Fischer says. 

As a result of this long-term relationship with the military, FN America recently landed a $13.5 million contract and may receive a substantial part of a $28.5 million contract. Both contracts would be with the Department of Defense, and all the work will be performed at the company’s Columbia production facility.  

“Any military contract that FN wins has a significant impact for our company, but, most importantly, it creates sustainable jobs for our workforce and increased revenue for our business,” says Greg Livermore, FN’s vice president for product management.

The U.S. Army Contracting Command selected FN America to be among the potential suppliers for a $28.5 million federal contract for 5.56mm NATO commercial off-the-shelf carbines. Livermore says, “Because FN has a demonstrated track record with the Department of Defense to deliver quality products on time, according to contract requirements, we were solicited to bid.”

The Department of Defense announced that four manufacturers—Colt’s Manufacturing, Daniel Defense, Remington Arms Company, and FN America—are qualified to be chosen for orders under this $28.5 million contract. The winning manufacturer and funding will be determined with each order. 

“Over the last three decades, FN has produced more than one million 5.56-caliber rifles and carbines under contract to the U.S. DoD and our NATO allies,” Livermore says. This contract is expected to be completed in 2019. 

Separately, the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center awarded the company a $13.5 million federal contract for the production of MK46 and MK48 light machine guns, spare parts, and engineering services in support of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). Eighty-five percent of this second contract will be performed in the Columbia production facility and 15 percent will be performed in Herstal, Belgium. The MK46 and MK48 were designed by FN to meet USSOCOM-specific needs. 

“FN is the only supplier that currently produces this platform for USSOCOM,” says Livermore. “(This contract) is an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract and is expected to be completed by 2023.”

In continuing good news for the Columbia production facility, on November 8, the U.S. Army announced that it was adding to a contract awarded to FN America in 2015. This modification awards FN America $88,607,000 for the production of M4 and M4A1 carbines, with work to be completed by September 2020.

“Because of our commitment to quality, FN has continually won consecutive contracts to produce carbines, rifles, and machine guns for the U.S. Department of Defense. In fact, the majority of the U.S. military’s small arms have been produced at our production facility,” Livermore says. All FN handguns, with the exception of the FN FiveseveN, are manufactured at the company’s state-of-the-art production facility in Columbia. 

FN Manufacturing, now FN America, LLC, came to Columbia in the late 1970s to produce firearms for the U.S. military. “Having a production facility in the United States has not only helped FN secure new business with DoD, but it has also helped us expand our offerings to U.S. firearms enthusiasts,” Livermore says. 

Today, FN holds the contracts for the M4A1, M16, and M249 series of lightweight machine guns, the M240 series of medium machine guns, and the MK46 and MK48 series of machine guns, among others. 

FN is also working to help develop new guns featuring revolutionary technology. “FN America was recently down-selected and contracted to produce two prototypes for the U.S. Army’s Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle program,” Livermore says. 

According to the company’s website, these prototypes are for a lightweight machine gun and a heat-adaptive modular weapon (HAMR) that will fulfill the Army’s need for lighter-weight weapons.  

And in what could be good news for the company and its Richland County employees, “If FN is successful in competing for the next phase of this competition, it could mean 40-plus additional years of sustainable jobs and revenue for our company and production facility,” Livermore adds.