FN Herstal, the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of small calibre weapons and weapon systems, has recently been awarded by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence a multi-year contract for, firstly, the production and provision of up to 4,000 FN MINIMI® Mk3 (3rd generation) light machine guns in 7.62x51mm NATO calibre 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.
The Norwegian decision is yet more proof of the trust placed in FN Herstal by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence 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 calibre. 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. Norway thus becomes the 37th country to select and standardise the FN MINIMI® 7.62 for its armed forces.
The FN Minimi (short for French: Mini Mitrailleuse; “mini machine gun”) is a Belgian 5.56mm Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) developed by Ernest Vervier, for FN Herstal. First introduced in the late 1970s, it is now in service in more than 75 countries. The weapon is currently manufactured at the FN facility in Herstal and their U.S. subsidiary FN Manufacturing LLC. The Minimi is a SAW that fires from an open bolt. It is an air-cooled 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. The upgrades were based on operational experience and user feedback over the past 10–15 years. 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.