Lewis Machine & Tool Company wins automatic firearms contract

The EDF testing eligible automatic weapons.
The EDF testing eligible automatic weapons. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Estonia has selected an offer by US arms company Lewis Machine & Tool Company (LMT) as the winner of the tender for a contract to supply automatic firearms to the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) and the country's other armed structures.

At the proposal of the Tender Committee, Col. Rauno Sirk, director of the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments (ECDI), declared the offer submitted by LMT the most successful tender in the procurement, spokespeople for the ECDI said on Tuesday.

In the appraisal of the offers received, the results of a shooting test conducted in March accounted for 10% of the overall score, the guaranteed number of shots throughout the weapon's life cycle 10%, the length of the weapon's useful life 30%, and the price 40% of the score.

"The committee appraised in the first place the reliability and dependability of the weapons as well as the economic feasibility, ie the total cost of the project," Sirk said. "It is our goal to buy an automatic firearm that is precise, handy and dependable in different weather and environmental conditions. The cost of the transaction was not of lesser importance either. In this, we evaluated the life cycle cost, not just the purchase price of the weapons and additional equipment, and we took into consideration the costs that have to be incurred over the next 20 years."

Under the planned contract, Estonia will buy some 16,000 firearms with additional equipment for €22 million over the years 2019-2021. The contract must also include an option for the purchase of additional weapons through 2026.

The ECDI's tender for the purchase of new 5.56mm and 7.62mm automatic firearms for the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades and eventually for the entire operations structure of the EDF was announced in June 2017.

Best of four

Nine of the 14 applications by arms manufacturers to pre-qualify for the procurement were granted. By the January deadline, four manufacturers submitted offers: Heckler & Koch GmbH (Germany), Sig Sauer Inc. (US), Lewis Machine & Tool Company (US) and Patriot Ordnance Factory Inc. (US).

Established in 1980, LMT manufactures and supplies arms primarily to the US military and other armed structures. Weapons manufactured by the company are also used by the Special Air Service (SAS) special forces unit of the British Army as well as the New Zealand Army.

The announcement of the winner of the tender will be followed by a 14-day period during which participants in the tender can appeal the outcome thereof. The framework and procurement contracts are expected to be signed within the next few months.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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