Estonian Defence Forces to receive 18,000 LMT Defense R20 Rahe assault rifles in 2021

The new R20 Rahe assault rifle entered in service with Estonian armed Forces in 2020, a total of 6,050 assault rifles in 5.56 mm and 500 rifles in 7.62mm caliber have been already handed over to the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF). In 2021, another batch of 18,340 R20 Rahe assault rifles will be delivered to the Estonian Defence Forces. The value of this contract is around €75 million.
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The LMT Defense R20 Rahe assault rifle for Estonian Defence Forces. (Picture source Wikipedia)

According to the Estonian Defence Forces annual report 2020, the aim of the project was to acquire a modern weapon that would allow the use of various modern accessories and would be both ergonomic and durable.

The R20 Rahe standard rifle is an LMT MLCPS rifle chambered for NATO 5.56 x 45mm, and the TA-R20 is an LMT CQBMWS rifle chambered for NATO 7.62 x 51mm. The rifle is manufactured by the American company LMT Defense.

The R20 Rahe assault rifle is based on a modular design allowing one to easily and quickly change the barrel together with the bolt and magazine. This makes it possible, for example, to change the caliber of the weapon.

In December 2018, the American company LMT has announced the award of the firearms contract for Estonian Defence Forces to provide 16,000 assault rifles. The rifles are the LMT Modular Ambidextrous Rifle System (MARS) family of rifles (5.56 and 7.62) that was developed in 2014 and delivered, under contract, to the New Zealand Defense Force. The contract with Estonia, set to run through 2021, includes an option for the purchase of additional weapons through 2026.

The R20 Rahe assault rifle is based on the M16/M4/AR assault rifle design using an ambidextrous T-shaped charging handle located below and behind the rear sight. The rifle is also equipped with an ambidextrous fire selector with safe, semi-automatic, and automatic function.

The R20 Rahe is an air-cooled, gas-operated assault rifle that has a gas valve with an adjustment cap and piston. It has a 14.5-inch barrel with a flash hider. The upper part of the handguard and the receiver is fitted with a Picatinny rail design platform which is made from a single piece of forged aerospace aluminum that provides a mounting platform for firearm accessories.

The lower part of the barrel is fitted with an M-LOK free-floating handguard used to mount light, grips, bipod or other accessories. The weapon uses a standard 30-round magazine and has a collapsible stock that can be adjusted in length.