Tuesday, July 2. In a ceremony held in Davenport, IA this week the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments and US weapons manufacturer LMT Defense (Lewis Machine and Tool Company) signed a contract to supply the Estonian Defence Forces with the new standard rifle.
‘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,' Kusti Salm, Director of Department at the Ministry of Defence of Estonia said. According to Salm, the US weapons manufacturer has invested heavily in the product development over the past few years and their firearms are among the most modern in the world.
‘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,’ Iowa Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) said at the ceremony and added she is proud of Estonia, which is standing on the front line against Russia's aggressive behaviour, has decided to purchase new weapons from US.
Initially, Estonia will be acquiring 16,000 automatic customised firearms as well as accessories. The first weapons will arrive in Estonia at the beginning of 2020 and will be used by the active service Scouts Battalion. Later, conscripts and reservists of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades and members of the voluntary Defence League will receive the weapons. Within the framework of the procurement, Estonia´s Police and Border Guard and the Ministry of Justice will be receiving the new rifles as well.
The Centre for Defence Investments, a Ministry of Defence of Estonia agency announced the procurement for the new rifles in June 2017. Requirements for the firearms were prepared by the Estonian Defence Forces. A total of 14 tenderers participated in the procurement, and LMT Defense was declared successful 3 December 2018.
LMT Defense is a US company founded in 1980. Small firearms manufactured by the LMT are used by several US military and paramilitary structures as well as by the SAS of the United Kingdom Special Forces and New Zealand’s Army, and the armed forces of several NATO member states.
Priit Soosar, Head of the Procurement Department at the Estonia´s Centre for Defence Investments, signed the contract on behalf of Estonia; with Karl Lewis, founder and CEO of the weapons company, signing on behalf of LMT Defense. Estonia´s Ambassador to US Jonatan Vseviov also attended the ceremony.