On 27 March 2023, the Finnish and Swedish Defence Forces signed a framework agreement for a joint range of firearms with Sako Ltd at the Sako factory in Riihimäki.
The agreement was signed by Major General Jari Mikkonen, Director of the Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command on behalf of the Finnish Minister of Defence, by Brigadier General Jonas Lotsne, Director of Land Systems at the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and, on behalf of Sako Ltd, by Raimo Karjalainen, CEO and Member of the Board and Dott. Franco Gussalli Beretta, Chairman of the Board.
“We very much appreciate the agreement and thank the Swedish and Finnish Defence Forces for the good cooperation with Sako Ltd. and the trust they have placed in us. With this agreement, Sako Ltd. will return to being a manufacturer of semi-automatic and automatic weapons,” says Raimo Karjalainen, CEO and Member of the Board of Sako Ltd.
The framework agreement will enable Finland and Sweden to procure new firearms in a cost-effective manner. It will initially run for 10 years, followed by three seven-year option periods until 31 December 2053.
In the first phase, Finland will acquire assault rifles and personal protective weapons for field tests. The price of the acquisition, including VAT, will be approximately €0.7 million.
“The framework agreement between the Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command, the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration and Sako Ltd for the procurement of firearms is a continuation of decades of cooperation between the Defence Forces and Sako Ltd. The future range of firearms is being prepared to gradually replace the Defence Forces’ current assault rifles, self-loading sniper rifles and heavy sniper rifles. The Defence Forces are preparing to phase out the current weapon systems in stages, which will ensure a controlled and cost-effective phase-out of the current system,” says Major General Jari Mikkonen, Director of the Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command.”
At the same occasion, Sweden made its first serial procurement of assault rifles and personal protective weapons through the framework agreement. The number of weapons being purchased by Sweden is considerable. The first agreement will cover firearms worth approximately SEK 875 million (78 million €).
“The signed agreement will have a significant impact on the growth of Sako’s business and on the defence and security of supply of both countries. Sako Ltd’s products ensure that both the Finnish and Swedish Defence Forces will have state-of-the-art products to ensure the security of their countries. The agreement will have a major impact in the long term, and will have a significant impact on employment at Sako. Already at this stage, the project involves several dozen professionals who have shown excellent commitment and dedication to the project. In addition to new jobs, the project will also have a significant impact on new investments and Sako’s subcontractors. We are very grateful to Beretta Holding, the owner of the company, which has placed its trust in our company and created the conditions for Sako to participate in the realisation of this contract,” continues Raimo Karjalainen, CEO and Member of the Board of Sako Ltd.
The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration ‘s procurement at this stage covers 5.56×45 and 7.62×51 calibre assault rifles, 7.62×51 calibre sniper rifles and the .338 Lapua Magnum (8.6mm).
“The agreement signed today will affect virtually all Swedish Defence Forces personnel, who will in the long term have access to new modern weapons. We are now taking a big step towards replacing virtually all the weapons in our armed forces and that is very gratifying,” says Jonas Lotsne, Director of Land Systems at the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration FMV.
The new weapons to be purchased will replace the AK4 and AK5 assault rifles and the Psg90 sniper rifle currently in use.
The Swedish Defence Forces have been in need of modernising their weapons for some time. The current AK4 systems have been in use since the 1960s and the AK5 was developed in the early 1980s and has been updated several times since its introduction. As a result of the new weapon systems to be acquired, the Swedish Defence Forces will have a modern and lighter range of weapons with better ergonomics and adjustment possibilities to suit each user.
The framework agreement, which has been in place for more than a decade, is part of an agreement between Sweden and Finland on the joint procurement of combat weapons systems and related technologies. The intention is to increase the security of supply of both countries and improve interoperability by using the same types of weapons and ammunition.
“The fact that Sweden and Finland will acquire a single weapon system from the same manufacturer will increase the possibilities for cooperation in terms of weapon use, training, development and ammunition procurement. Choosing a Finnish arms manufacturer brings security to long-term arms procurement,” continues Jonas Lotsne.
The deployment of the sniper rifle system is planned for 2024. The new 5.56-calibre assault rifle will be introduced in 2025, followed by other types of weapons. The roll-out will be in stages as the new weapons are delivered. The deployment includes the training of trainers, technical staff and other personnel of the Defence Forces, and the production of training materials.
Before the start of deliveries, for each type of weapon the following will be done: large-scale tests where quality, handling and ergonomics will be tested under varying conditions. Testing will be carried out by both FMV testing personnel and troops.