The Estonian Centre for Defence Investments, an agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and American LMT Defense (Lewis Machine and Tool Company) signed a contract for procurement of new assault and DMR rifles.
According to the Estonian MoD, the Baltic state will initially acquire 16,000 automatic customised firearms as well as other accessories such as M203 grenade launchers. The chosen platform is the Modular Ambidextrous Rifle System (MARS) manufactured by LMT Defence. Estonians will receive both 5,56 mm x 45 MARS-L assault rifles and 7,62 mm x 51 MARS-H DMR rifles. Deliveries are expected to commence at the beginning of 2020. New equipment will be used by the active service Scouts Battalion.
Subsequent batches of U.S. manufactured firearms will be handed over to conscripts and reservists of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades and members of the voluntary Defence League. The contract also calls for delivery of new equipment to Estonia´s Police, Border Guard and the Ministry of Justice
For our troops, as well as to our reservists the rifle is the most important weapon, and with the contract signed today the Defence Forces will receive a new generation rifles, which are accurate, ergonomic, reliable and modern, said Kusti Salm, Director of Department at the Ministry of Defence of Estonia.
Estonia is one of our most reliable Allies in international operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. We are greatly honoured that Estonia will begin using weapons manufactured in the United States’ said Iowa Senator Joni Ernst.
The plan for procurement of new rifles was initially announced by the Centre for Defence Investments in June 2017. The U.S. LMT Defense was invited to take part in the international tender among a dozen of other manufacturers and eventually selected as the preferred bidder on 3 December 2018.
The American company has a wide experience in providing firearms to a number of armies and security forces around the World, including the U.S. military and paramilitary structures as well as the SAS of the United Kingdom Special Forces and New Zealand’s Army, and the armed forces of several NATO member states.