The New Zealand Defence Forces is replacing its inventory of FN MINIMI® 5.56 x 45mm NATO light machine guns with a new 7.62 x 51mm NATO Light Support Weapon – the FN Herstal 7.62 MINIMI® TR.

Now being introduced into service, the 7.62 MINIMI replaces the 5.56mm LSW C9. The 7.62mm weapons will be introduced into Service in two versions, to be known as Machine Gun 7.62mm, MINIMI, LSW, LONG RAIL (LR) and Machine Gun 7.62mm, MINIMI, LSW.

All 598 of the operational weapons; 230, 7.62mm LSW and 368, 7.62mm LSW Long Rails (LR), have been delivered to the project store in Trentham, New Zealand.  All ancillaries (including 201 light weight ground mounts) have also been delivered to Trentham.  Initial training on this new capability (“Train the Maintainer” and “Train the Trainer”) was completed in Nov 12.

(video after the break)

Click on the image above to jump to a video produced by the New Zealand Defence Forces giving an overview to the introduction of the new Light Support Weapon.

Soldiers, sailors and airmen should see the phased withdrawal from service of the 5.56mm C9 fleet and the introduction into service 7.62mm LSW, over the first quarter of 2013.

MINIMI 7.62

Many people probably don’t know that the FN Herstal MINIMI was originally designed in 7.62×51mm NATO, but later redesigned for the 5.56 mm cartridge to fit the requirements of the US Army’s Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) program, and because NATO selected the 5.56 x 45mm round as the standard small arms caliber.

In the early 2000’s, following a requirement for a 7.62x51mm lightweight machine gun from USSOCOM (United States Special Operations COMmand), the FN MINIMI® 7.62 was brought back and updated to meet the required specifications.  FN Herstal won the competition and the FN MINIMI® 7.62 was adopted by USSOCOM under the MK 48 designation.

With the favorable reviews of the Mk 48, and the increasing demand for a more powerful variant of the Minimi, FN Herstal introduced the MINIMI 7.62, available in several different configurations.  Apart from the different caliber, the MINIMI 7.62 incorporates a non-adjustable, self-regulating gas system and a hydraulic recoil buffer in the buttstock assembly. The MINIMI 7.62 also has a different sight setup calibrated for the larger cartridge. The rear sight is adjustable from 100 to 1,000 m in 100 m increments and can also be corrected for windage.

The MINIMI 7.62 is available from FN Herstal in four variants: