The Land Component of the Belgian Armed Forces will soon be retiring the venerable 7.62x51mm MAG M2 (FN MAG medium machine gun) for FN Herstals 7.62x51mm Minimi Mk3. Specifically 242 machine guns will be bought with an order of 2 million Euros from the countries own FN Herstal. The article mentions that this will be enough to have 3 machine guns per platoon of 30, thus making it a squad machine gun. I’m not sure if this is how the Belgium Army operates or if it is a editing mistake, but previously having a medium machine gun per squad slows it down and is where the Squad Automatic Weapon concept importantly plays in.
The Belgian government has approved a plan “to replace and modernise the [country’s] stock of armed forces weapons” with the purchase of 242 Minimi 7.62 Mk3 light machine guns manufactured by FN Herstal, the Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 26 August.
Procured under a four-year contract worth EUR2 million (USD2.2 million), the new weapons are to replace ageing MAG M2 (FN MAG 60.20) general-purpose machine guns that entered service nearly 40 years ago.
According to the Belgian MoD, the new machine gun will be carried and fired by a single operator instead of the two soldiers required to operate the MAG M2. Each Belgian Land Component infantry platoon (30 soldiers) will be equipped with three Minimi 7.62 Mk3s.
The new 7.62 mm Minimi can be easily introduced into Belgian service because the country’s armed forces already operate the NATO-standard 5.56×45 mm Minimi M2 (Standard) and Minimi M3 (Para).
FN’s 7.26x51mm Mk3 is slowly popping up in more and more places around the world to include New Zealand, Poland, the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, and within the U.S. military as the Mk48. Maybe the 7.62x51mm pill is the cure to the M249s problems that it has become known for in some circles.
In case you are wondering how to spot the differences between the standard long barrel 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm Mk3s, here are two good pictures outlining the two. Notice that the 7.62 doesn’t have a STANAG magazine well (5.56 version still has one), it has a beefier flashhider (5.56 version has a cone type one), and the fire control group is a little bit longer than the 5.56 version.