The Finnish and Swedish Defense Forces will purchase a range of various rifles from Sako Ltd. TFB reported about this almost two years ago, but it’s now official what the framework and the firearms will look like.
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The new Sako 5.56x45mm carbine appears to have a monolithic upper receiver and an MLOK forend. It also appears to be select-fire. Both the carbine and 7.62x51mm rifle appear to be fitted with Ase Utra BoreLock Bird cage flash hiders which will allow the use of suppressors using the BoreLock fast-attach mounting system. It’s unknown what suppressors will be issued with the rifles.
The framework agreement will run for 10 years, with three seven-year option periods until 2053. Finland will acquire assault rifles and personal protective weapons for field tests, for a modest €0.7 million. On the other hand, Sweden’s contribution is considerable, with SEK 875 million ($82 million) worth of assault rifles and personal protective weapons. It’s a well-known fact that the Ak5 (Automatkarbin 5 / FN FNC) has reached its end of road, and while modernized recently the Ak4 (H&K G3) has been in service since the 1960s.
Below: The new Sako M23 7.62x51mm rifle, which also looks to have a monolithic upper and an MLOK forend. The Sako M23 has already been selected by the Finnish armed forces, with a contract agreed in October 2022. Similarly, earlier this year, in February the Finnish armed forces also selected the Sako TRG M10.
The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration’s procurement covers 5.56×45 and 7.62×51 calibre rifles (DMRs), 7.62×51 calibre sniper rifles and the .338 Lapua Magnum (8.6mm). Deployment of the new firearms systems will start in 2024 and 2025. Details on exactly what variants of the weapons the Finnish military will be procuring for further testing have not been released.
The Sako TRG M10 Sniper Rifle in 7.62×51 and .338 Lapua Magnum (8.6mm), which is the sniper rifle I predicted would win in my article from 2019. The Cerakote looks familiar to the one TFB reported about in the same article: New Multi-Caliber Sniper Weapon System for Swedish Armed Forces – The main colour should be equivalent to RAL7013 or Pantone 19-0822 TCX. That is a Brown Grey color, sometimes known as “Snigelgrå” or “Snigel Design Grey“. This rifle will replace the current PSG90 sniper rifle (AI AW).
Here is the Press Release from Sako in full:
Finnish and Swedish Defence Forces to acquire a joint range of firearms from Sako Ltd
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.
According to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, the FMV, the selection of the Sako rifles is the first of a raft of selection. The FMV note that while the weapons have been selected they will continue evaluations, “starting in 2023, extensive tests of each weapon type will be carried out, where quality as well as handling and ergonomics will be tested under varying conditions and in several rounds.” 2023 will see the procurement phase start and testing and verification carried out. In 2024 the Swedish military will receive the first ‘PSG 8.6’ (the .338LM bolt action rifles) and the first ‘new AG90′ 12.7x99mm (.50 BMG) rifles will be introduced. The AK 5.56’ will be introduced in 2025 and the ‘AK 7.62’ will be introduced in 2026.
The FMV note that the agreement with Sako also covers Sweden’s Police, Customs, SÄPO (Swedish Security Service) and the Coast Guard with different variants and accessories able to be selected under the agreement.
How the weapons will be issued to the various arms of the Swedish military is not yet clear but the flexibility of the contract and varied systems selected suggest Sweden (and Finland) have looked to cover all bases. The Finnish Logistics Department of the Defense Forces also stated that they will use the agreement’s framework to equip their own “Border Guard, Customs, the Office of Criminal Sanctions and police authorities” as needed.
The Finnish Logistics Department’s press release also noted that the two countries will “place independent orders directly from SAKO Oy based on the framework agreement,” and that “each country manages its own orders. The countries try to time their purchases at the same time in order to achieve a volume advantage.”
Additional reporting from Matthew Moss
What do you think about the new rifle systems from Sako? Let us know in the comments section below.