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Estonia is about to launch negotiations with arms manufacturers to supply automatic firearms to the Estonian defense Forces (EDF) and other armed structures. The first new firearms are expected to be delivered in 2019.

The EDF, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and the Ministry of Justice recently tested the weapons of the three suppliers whose offers were deemed to be consistent with the terms of the procurement. Properties evaluated included precision, stability and dependability, as well as feedback from shooters.

Offers from Heckler & Koch GmbH (Germany), Sig Sauer Inc. (U.S.) and Lewis Machine & Tool Company (U.S.) qualified in the procurement conducted by the ECDI. The manufacturers made four weapons available for testing — two automatic rifles, a light machine gun, and a precision rifle, according to /news.err.ee.

The individuals selected to perform the test shooting were chosen to represent as broad as possible a selection of potential users, and included soldiers with experience on international missions, members of the volunteer Estonian defense League, members of the PPA, right- as well as left-handed individuals, and men and women alike.

Priit Soosaar, head of the department for procurements at the ECDI, said on Thursday that the contract is expected to cost €75 million at most, and that the first units to receive the new weapons will be the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades, the PPA and units of the Ministry of Justice, as well as some units of the Estonian defense League.

All of the new firearms 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.

The weapons to be acquired are to replace the EDF’s Galil and AK-4 rifles. HK G3A automatic rifles will not be replaced.