Latvia Unifies its Firearms. G36 For All of the Uniformed Services

Photo: US Army.
Photo: US Army.

Latvian MoD concluded a 13 million euro worth agreement with the German Heckler & Koch company, with its term defined as 7 years.  The main purpose of the contract is to shape the procurement of G36 rifles that are going to be received by the National Guard and State Border Guard service. There, the new weapon would replace the AK-4 and AKM firearms. Thanks to the above, G36 would become the standard weapon for all of the Latvian uniformed services, utilizing the NATO standard 5.56 mm round.  

Purchase of G36 assault rifles and other guns under the agreement will allow us to modernize the National Armed Forces, National Guard and Border Guard arsenal with the same type of weapons. It will further enhance the close cooperation and joint development to which we have committed ourselves and are working towards

Raimonds Begmanis, Head of the Latvian MoD

The framework agreement and contract related to procurement of 13 million euro worth of weapons is related mainly to the firearms that would be used by the Border Guard. The said service, currently, utilizes primarily the AK derivatives, inherited from the Soviet Union. Only 10% of firearms included in the Border Guard’s inventory shoots the NATO standard rounds, and these weapons are mostly privately owned. It was planned that almost 9 million euros would be spent to acquire new rifles between 2016 and 2018. The relevant contract has not been signed before January 2018.

This seems to be surprising, as the G36 was the key pretender to be selected, as the rifle constitutes the primary weapon used by the Latvian military. Commander of the Latvian Border Guard Normunds Garbars, three year ago, set an objective for himself, to create a situation in which during the 100th Anniversary of regaining independence in 2018 Latvian officers would not be forced to present the Kalashnikov rifle during the parade.

Not only would the border guard receive the new rifles, as the National Guard is also to take delivery – the said service uses the AK-4 weapon provided by Sweden. AK-4 is a license-manufactured H&K G3 rifle, shooting the 7.62×51 mm round. Introduction of the G36 rifles would ensure homogeneity, both when it comes to the primary weapon, as well as the round used by all of the military and uniformed services.

The Agreement signed by and between the MoD and the H&K company concerns weapons other than the G36, however these have not yet been specified. Most probably, more and more armament (in many cases - delivered by the allies) could be replaced with products supplied by the Germans throughout the upcoming years. This includes several types of pistols (ranging from M1911, through SIG 210, Makarovs or a variety of Glocks), sniper rifles or support weaponry.