Iowa-based LMT Defense (formerly Lewis Machine & Tool) recently confirmed its award of a contract to supply firearms to the Estonian Defense Forces.
With production and deliveries to begin soon, the $25-million contract will surely spur economic growth for Iowa where the arms manufacturer recently expanded operations. LMT’s production facility there will create an estimated 50 new local jobs in addition to the current 128 full-time positions.
Estonia will gain 16,000 new infantry rifles by 2021 as LMT supplies the nation’s “complete small arms solutions.” The rifles chosen by Estonia are from the LMT MARS family of rifles, including the AR 15 and AR 20, in addition to 40-mm grenade launchers. All of the rifles will be made in Iowa.
Known for its ambidextrous maneuverability, the MARS was developed in 2014 and initially delivered under a contract with the New Zealand Defence Force. It will now be used to equip Estonia’s land military forces, police and border guards.
The initial deliveries of rifles and accessories will start this year with completion slated for 2021. The deal includes options for future modernization over the next 20 years.
“This long term partnership between LMT Defense and EDF reflects our commitment to support our NATO Partners and worldwide allies,” noted Karl Lewis, president of LMT Defense.
Estonia Defense Investment Center director, Col. Rauno Sirk, said the MARS meets the country’s demand for a firearm that is “accurate, handy and reliable in different weather and environmental conditions.”
LMT Defense won the contract after stiff competition with other companies from across the world following rigorous trials that lasted over a period of two years. LMT said it was “honored” to be chosen.
LMT, founded in 1980, supplies U.S. military and law enforcement with firearms. Its products are available to more than 300,000 federal users worldwide. The company has received numerous awards for its contributions to the U.S. military, including the United States Army Armament, Munitions and Chemical Command Award for Contractor Excellence of Loyal Support and Contributions to the Readiness of the US Armed Forces.