The Georgian Ministry of Defense has released statements and even staged a demonstration wherein the land component of the Georgian Armed Forces will replace the 7.62x54R PKM medium machine guns with FN Herstal 7.62x51mm NATO M240Bs. This will be a gradual replacement over the next year or so as PKMs become switched out with M240Bs within the infantry and mechanized forces of the Republic of Georgia. Because the announcement specifically mentions “U.S. made” M240Bs, we’ve taken that to possibly mean that this purchase is either through Foreign Military Sales programs or that these are at least M240Bs previously in use by the U.S. Army and were replaced by M240Ls in active Army service.
From the post on Sputnik–
“Defense Minister Levan Izoria, head of the General Staff Maj. Gen. Vladimer Chachibaia and US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly will attend the demonstration of US-produced M240 machine guns on the shooting range of the JTEC. Beginning tomorrow, PK machine guns will be gradually replaced in service of the Georgian army by US analogs M240, meeting NATO standards,” the statement reads.
Georgia is not a NATO member, but has been seeking membership and cooperation with the Alliance. In 2008, NATO supported Georgia’s bid to join the Alliance, and established a commission to oversee the process of Georgian NATO accession. Georgia has to meet a number of requirements first, including the implementation of various reforms and modernizing the army.
This will be an interesting modernization step for Georgia because as of now this will be the first 7.62x51mm NATO chambered weapon system that Georgian Land Forces will be armed with. The M240Bs will probably be more accurate than currently fielded PKMs, but they will only be slightly less used than the Cold War era PKMs that the army is currently using. They will also be heavier, and won’t come with the mobile ammunition capability that the PKM has through the removable ammunition box (they can, but only up to 50 rounds). This will have to be taken into consideration, especially for dismounted infantrymen. The whole NATO membership admission, I don’t think will be important when it comes to machine gun commonality, because much more important factors are at stake, and have more to do with strategic implications.