The small arms of Defense League territorial defense units will be replaced by the year's end, with most members taking possession of new R20 Rahe assault rifles.
"Right now, Defense League territorial defense units have 50 percent of the Rahe assault rifles they have been allocated that should reach 90 percent by the end of 2022," Maj. Tanel Rütman from the voluntary defense organization's strategic communications department said.
The current 7.62 millimeter AK-4 assault rifles used by the Defense League will be put in storage, with some weapons returned to the Estonian Defense Forces, Rütman explained. The Rahe uses the 5.56 millimeter NATO cartridge.
The South and North territorial defense districts that already have Rahes are busy swapping out the rifles and updating weapon's permits.
The conditions for storing Rahe assault rifles at home are the same as for any other Defense League weapons.
The first Rahe assault rifles made specially for Estonia arrived in July of 2020. The EDF procured a total of around 19,000 rifles that were delivered over two years.
"The R20 is a modern automatic firearm. The new assault rifles are lighter, more accurate and reliable compared to the AK-4s they replace and will boost our units' efficiency. The weapons are ambidextrous and fully adjustable. The assault rifle is the soldier's most important weapon," Maj. Risto Pärtel, chief armorer for the EDF, said, adding that modern equipment makes it possible to use the new weapons during the night as well as day.
Another innovation the Rahe brings to the EDF are red-dot sights.
The Estonian Center for Defense Investments and the Lewis Machine & Tool Company (LMT) signed a contract for new EDF assault rifles on July 1, 2019. The delivery of the weapons took place in six stages in 2020-2021.
LMT is an American company founded in 1980 various small arms manufactured by which are used by several U.S. military and law enforcement structures, the British SAS and the New Zealand Army.
Editor: Marcus Turovski