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First new automatic rifles due in Estonia by early 2019
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    Topics - Defence Matters ENG - News

    First new automatic rifles due in Estonia by early 2019

    (Adds paras 4-5)

    TALLINN, Mar 29, BNS - The Center for Defense Investment is about to start negotiations shortly with the arms manufacturers shortlisted in a procurement for a contract to supply automatic firearms to the Estonian defense forces and other armed structures, and the first new firearms are expected to be delivered in time for the Independence Day military parade of 2019.

    The defense forces, the Police and Border Guard Board and the Ministry of Justice earlier this week tested the weapons of the three suppliers whose offers were deemed to be consistent with the terms of the procurement. The properties evaluated were precision, stability and dependability, as well as feedback from shooters.

    Offers from Heckler & Koch, Sig Sauer and Lewis Machine & Tool Company qualified in the procurement conducted by the Estonian Center for Defense Investment. The manufacturers made four weapons available for testing -- two automatic rifles, a light machine gun, and a precision rifle.

    "The aim of the testing was to find out how stable and dependable the weapons are in the hands of different shooters," said Maj. Risto Partel, chief weapons officer of the defense forces. He said that the persons to perform the test shooting were chosen so that they would represent as broad as possible a selection of potential users, and included soldiers with experience from international missions, Kaitseliit members, right-handed and left-handed individuals, men and women. Also people from the Police and Border Guard Board participated in the testing, which was done in full combat gear, a helmet and a bulletproof jacket included.

    In the appraisal of the offers the outcome of the shooting test makes up 10 percent of the overall score, the length of the useful life of the weapon 20 percent, technical specifications 30 percent, and the price 40 percent. Partel said that the aim of the procurement was to get the most reliable and state-of-the-art weapon for members for the defense forces.

    Priit Soosaar, head of the department for procurements at the Center for Defense Investment, said on Thursday that the contract is expected to cost 75 million euros at most and the first units to get the weapons are the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades, the Police and Border Guard Board and units of the Ministry of Justice, as well as some units of the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps.

    Negotiations on the details of the deal will start in April or May, after which the suppliers will make their final offers setting out the precise number of units to be supplied, the price, and information about extras. The contract is expected to be signed in the fall.

    According to Soosaar, the first weapons are expected to be delivered in time for the 2019 Independence Day military parade.

    Partel, chief weapons officer of the defense forces, added that all the new guns will be equipped with rails necessary for the mounting of additional equipment such as red dot sights. The weapons currently being used by the defense forces had to be refurbished for the rails to be attached. According to Partel, the introduction of the new weapons also means that in the future also conscripts will get weapons equipped with red dot scopes.

    Partel added that the new weapons will be taken into use for the next 20-25 years.

    Warrant Officer Mihkel Paalo, from the sniper school of the Viru Infantry Battalion of the 1st Infantry Brigade, said that all the weapons tested are better and more lightweight than the weapons being used by the defense forces now.

    The weapons to be acquired will replace the Galil and AK-4 rifles of the defense forces. The HK G3A atomatic rifles will not be replaced.

    Soosaar said that no decision has been made yet about what will happen to the automatic rifles currently in use in the defense forces.

    The Center for Defense Investment wishes to buy new 5.56-millimeter and 7.62-millimeter automatic firearms for the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades in the tender that was announced in June 2017. Nine of the 14 applications by manufacturers of firearms to pre-qualify for the procurement were granted and five rejected. Eventually three companies were shortlisted as meeting the minimum requirements of the procurement.

    According to the procurement plan, Estonia is to buy about 11,000 automatic firearms in 2018-2021. In addition, the contract has to enable to buy up to 18,000 more automatic firearms until 2024. The expected maximum cost of the procurement is 75 million euros.

    Tallinn newsroom, +372 610 8814, sise@bns.ee

    Baltic News Service

    • Published: 29.03.2018 16:31
    • LETA, BNS
    •  
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