US-based weapons manufacturer LMT Defense has received a contract to supply a new standard rifle to the Estonian Defence Forces.

The company signed the contract agreement with the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments in a ceremony held in Davenport, Iowa, US.

LMT will provide 16,000 automatic customised firearms and accessories under the award with deliveries to begin at the end of next year.

The Estonian Defence Forces’ active service Scouts Battalion will be the first unit to use the weapons.

Following this, the company will make deliveries to conscripts and reservists of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades and members of the voluntary Defence League.

The weapons will also be supplied to Estonia’s Police and Border Guard and the Ministry of Justice.

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Estonia Defence Ministry investments planning department director Kusti Salm said: “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 new-generation rifles, which are accurate, ergonomic, reliable and modern.”

Salm stated that LMT invested heavily in product development over the past few years.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) said: “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 US.”

“The defence forces will receive new-generation rifles, which are accurate, ergonomic, reliable and modern.”

Estonian Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Centre for Defence Investments issued a notification for the procurement of the new rifles in June 2017.

The MoD invited 14 companies to take part in the procurement process. LMT Defense was announced as the winner in December last year.

LMT supplies small firearms to the US military and paramilitary structures, the UK Special Forces, New Zealand’s Army, as well as the armed forces of several Nato nations.

In May, the company announced that it was selected to supply complete small arms solutions to the EDF. The company will provide the AR 15 type and AR 10 type rifles, and 40mm Grenade Launchers.