Canadian Sniper Rifle Maker Signs Weapons Deal With Ukraine
PGW Defence Technologies confirms $1 million CAD agreement for long-range sniper rifles
This was confirmed by the owner of Winnipeg-based PGW Defence Technologies Ross Spagrud in an exclusive interview with UATV.
“Canada has extremely strong Ukrainian roots, and I’m quite certain that every Ukrainian in Canada almost certainly would support initiatives to protect the needs of their homeland,” Spagrud says.
The weapons will likely be delivered as early as this fall, according to Canadian Conservative Member of Parliament James Bezan.
The deal includes the delivery of LRT-3, .50 caliber sniper weapon systems, as well as some after-sale support, service and training. Spagrud says the sniper rifle requires very specific training in order to be used with any degree of effectiveness against enemy combatants, stressing that the company does not provide military sniper training.
In December 2017, the Canadian government added Ukraine to its Automatic Firearms Country Control List, which opened the door for the export of Canadian-made weapons to Ukraine.
The LRT-3 is a chambered, .50 Browning Machine Gun, which is considered to be a popular sniper caliber. The bolt action rifle incorporates a five shot magazine, muzzle brake, stainless steel construction for corrosion resistance, and it comes with a sound suppressor, optical sight, spare parts, and cleaning kits.
This is not one of PGW’s “huge deals” but it’s a good one, Spagrud says, adding “we want to start off small to show our product’s capabilities and effectiveness.”
The company has a long history of exporting its weapons. Its clients include the United States’ Marines, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense and the Royal Saudi Land Force.
PGW has worked on different levels with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Canadian police. In 2005, the company signed a nearly CA$5 million contract with Canada’s Department of Defense. Currently, they are working on a number of projects with the CAF, focusing on parts and maintenance. PGW also has a research project on the backburner with the Canadian Armed Forces, which Spagrud says is “looking very promising for the future.”
About two years ago, PGW faced scrutiny after photos emerged from Yemen of Houthi rebels holding sniper rifles which were made by the company in Winnipeg. It appeared that the weapons were stolen from Saudi forces.
What are the risks of similar scenarios playing out in eastern Ukraine?
This is a constant concern for the company, Spagrud says, but “if someone was to steal or take it from a dead soldier, and they don’t have nearly a year’s worth of training in using the equipment, it would be almost worthless to them.”
The Canadian government issues export permits after a thorough vetting process and the buying military has to certify that the goods will not be resold or redistributed without the expressed permission of the Canadian government.
PGW Defence is one of the few arms manufacturers which has gone public with its deal in Ukraine.
Kyiv has long lobbied for more military assistance from Canada and the West as government troops continue to fight Russian hybrid forces in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s more than four-year undeclared war in Donbas has led to the deaths of more than 10,000 people. An estimated 1.6 million people have been internally displaced within Ukraine.