According to information released on September 3, 2021, Belgium company FN Herstal, a global leader in the design and the manufacturing of small caliber weapons and weapon systems, has received a contract from the Norwegian Ministry of Defense for the delivery of 4,000 FN MINIMI® Mk3 (3rd generation) light machine guns in 7.62x51mm NATO caliber and associated initial spare parts over a 7-year period, and secondly, maintenance and support equipment over a 20-year period.
This decision concludes a program that was initiated by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence more than two years ago and included a series of technical evaluations and commercial negotiations in which FN Herstal competed against three American suppliers. Norway thus becomes the 37th country to select and standardize the FN MINIMI® 7.62 for its armed forces.
The Norwegian decision is yet more proof of the trust placed in FN Herstal by the Norwegian Ministry of Defense which, already in 2010, awarded a first sizeable contract for the supply of first-generation FN MINIMI® light machine guns, at that time in 5.56x45mm NATO caliber. It also marks a new major success for FN Herstal on several levels. Not only due to its size, but also because it confirms FN Herstal’s leadership as the partner of choice for European and NATO armed forces.
The FN MINIMI is one of the most popular machine guns in service in the world and is used by security and military forces of 75 countries from all over the world. The FN Minimi is also manufactured under license in Canada, Australia, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Sweden, Greece and Switzerland by Colt Canada, Lithgow Arms, Beretta, PT Pindad, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Bofors Carl Gustaf, and Astra Arms S.A. respectively.
The FN Minimi is a Belgian-made light machine gun available in 5.56mm and 7.62mm caliber developed by the company FN Herstal based in Belgium that was introduced in the late 1970s.
The FN Minimi uses a gas-actuated long-stroke piston system. The barrel is locked with a rotary bolt, equipped with two massive locking lugs, forced into battery by a helical camming guide in the bolt carrier. The FN Minimi is fed from the left-hand side by disintegrating-link M27 ammunition belts (a miniaturized version of the 7.62mm M13 belt), from either an unsupported loose belt, enclosed in a polymer ammunition box with a 200-round capacity attached to the base of the receiver, or from detachable STANAG magazines, used in other NATO 5.56 mm assault rifles such as the M16 and FNC.
The FN Minimi Mk3 is an improved variant of the standard Minimi including many new features. The new version of the light machine gun was unveiled in November 2013 during the Homeland and security exhibition Milipol that was held in Paris, France.
The FN Minimi Mk3 includes new features as:
– An ergonomic buttstock adjustable in length (5 positions) to allow compensation for body armor and load bearing equipment. The buttstock is adjustable for cheek rest height as well. The user can have his eye correctly aligned with the iron sights, or optical sights, while keeping his cheek properly positioned on the buttstock. It also integrates a folding shoulder rest and a hydraulic buffer that stabilizes the rate of fire and reduces felt recoil,
– A new handguard/bipod assembly that provides a comfortable handguard and three forward MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny® accessory rails. The adjustable-height (3 positions) bipod, when folded back, integrates into the shape of the handguard even with an accessory on the lower rail,
– An ergonomically-shaped cocking handle that gives the user a better grip with the strong or weak hand,
– An improved feed tray with belt retaining pawls that hold the belt correctly in position during the loading procedure, which is most useful when the user is in the standing position,
– An optional heatshield that greatly reduces the risk of inadvertently touching the barrel,
– The convertibility of the FN MINIMI® 7.62 to fire 5.56x45mm ammunition.