Lewis Machine & Tool will move to Iowa to build its rifles after winning a $25 million contract with the Estonian Defence Forces.
The company is moving from Illinois. The $25 million contract calls for LMT Defense to supply Estonia with 16,000 rifles and accessories by 2021, with an option for additional work through 2025. The company announced in early December it won the contract.
The company is relocating to Eldridge, Iowa, from Milan, Illinois. Matt Pruitt, the company’s sales and marketing director, said all of its rifles will be made in Eldridge. LMT Defense is in 45 countries worldwide, Pruitt said.
Eldridge, which has a population of about 6,100, is a northern suburb of the Quad Cities. LMT received about $1 million in tax increment financing assistance to move. It will increase its 128-person workforce by 50 more in the next year and keep that number until its financing agreement ends in 2031.
In its press release, LMT Defense said it has selected Milrem LCM, an Estonian defense systems lifecycle management provider, as its local partner. Milrem LCM has been the partner of the Estonian Defence Forces since 2014 and has extensive knowledge with armored and combat vehicles.
“We are glad to be able to provide our support to Lewis Machine & Tool in this project,” said Ingvar Pärnamae, Managing Director of Milrem LCM.
These weapons utilize the LMT Defense monolithic upper on the MARS rifle system. The MARS was developed in 2014 and was initially delivered under contract to New Zealand Defence Force. The MARS weapon platform is a completely ambidextrous rifle system including ambidextrous bolt catch, bolt release, safety selector, magazine release and charging handle.