The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) has selected Belgian firearms manufacturer Fabrique Nationale (FN) Herstal’s Minimi Mk 3 light machine guns (LMGs), as the Minimi (B), to fill the shortfall in the procurement of the 5.56 mm Minimi Mk1 currently produced under licence by Sumitomo Heavy Industries (SHI) for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF). Global open-source intelligence company Janes reported that the country will procure 514 Minimis for JPY920 million (USD6.88 million) and 182 G28 E2 snipers valued at JPY1.13 billion in 2024. The models are scheduled to be publicly announced in FY fiscal year 2023. The Japanese MoD announced in February 2023 that it will purchase 3,100 Minimis worth JPY14.9 billion to replace the Sumitomo Heavy Industries-produced Minimi Mk 1 guns in service with the JGSDF.
Minimi Mk 1 is manufactured under license by Sumitomo Heavy Industries. The Japan Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) signed a contract with Sumitomo subsidiary Sumisho Aero-Systems to introduce four FN Minimi Mk3 weapons in February 2020. But Sumitomo Heavy Industries withdrawing from machine gun production, the Minimi Mk3 is being procured directly from FN in Belgium. On January 2023, the FN-made Minimi MK3 was selected and designed as MINIMI(B). An advantage in selecting the Minimi Mk 3 is that it shares the same barrel as the Minimi Mk1. Additionally, new anti-heat bags for spare barrels to allow the weapon crew to reposition while carrying hot barrels, and dustproof carrier bags which were not adopted for the Mk1), will be included in the purchase.
The FN Minimi (short for French: Mini Mitrailleuse; “mini machine gun”) is a Belgian 5.56mm light machine gun/squad automatic weapon developed by Ernest Vervier for FN Herstal. Introduced in the late 1970s, it is in service in more than 75 countries. The weapon is manufactured at the FN facility in Herstal and their U.S. subsidiary FN Manufacturing LLC. The Minimi fires from an open bolt. It is an air-cooled, gas operated long-stroke piston weapon that is capable of fully automatic fire only. It can be belt fed or fired from a magazine. The Minimi is configured in several variants: the Standard model as a platoon or squad support weapon, the Para version for paratroopers and the Vehicle model as secondary armament for fighting vehicles.
In November 2013, FN Herstal unveiled the improved Mk3 version of the Minimi light machine gun. It can be converted to fire either 5.56×45mm or 7.62×51mm rounds. The stock is 5-position adjustable that is also adjustable for cheek rest height with a folding shoulder rest and hydraulic buffer. The feed tray has retaining pawls to hold ammunition from the belt in place while loading. The handguard has three forward picatinny rails. A new bipod is 3-position height adjustable and seamlessly integrates into the shape of the handguard when folded back regardless of accessories that may be attached. Others features include a more ergonomic cocking handle and an optional heat shield, enabled by an added on long pin, to protect from barrel heat. Users that already have Minimi machine guns can partially or completely upgrade their existing weapons with the Mk3 features.