I recently had the chance to speak with representatives of Beretta USA, and I was impressed by the company’s commitment to supporting the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program for international sales. The Beretta M9 (or 92FS) has a strong record as a military pistol not only in the U.S. but around the world. Since 1987, Beretta has produced the U.S.-made M9 for the U.S. Armed Forces and for several international militaries that have acquired the M9 using FMS channels.
Two weeks ago, we included in our weekly news update the announcement that the U.S. Army is ordering more M9 Pistols from Beretta USA. Last week at Modern Day Marine expo in Quantico, VA., I had the opportunity to talk to Casey Betzold, Beretta’s International Sales Manager. Betzold told me that Beretta is committed to supporting international customers through FMS in the same way they always have. This means that the new contract for M9 pistols could be used for FMS orders as well – great news for allied nations that prefer to pursue procurement actions through the FMS system.
I was particularly interested in Beretta’s take on FMS, since not all companies are so enthusiastic. Most U.S. Defense companies support the FMS system, but a few see FMS as a threat to their Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). A large contract with the U.S. Government means that per-unit prices will be lower than commercial prices, which is one of the reasons why so many countries prefer to buy FMS. The USG allows defense companies to exercise a “right of refusal” over FMS requests, so the company could pursue a DCS instead (and presumably try to charge the foreign customer a higher price).
The reality is that many countries choose to go FMS primarily for the simplicity of the process, not for the product itself. Their primary interest is simplifying the procurement process, and the associated international logistics, by outsourcing those procedures to the U.S. DOD. I saw this happen once: FNH exercised its right of refusal to sell the M240B via FMS, stating that the weapon may be purchased directly from FN Herstal. The foreign nation then chose to order U.S. Ordnance’s MK43 instead – and they ordered it through an FMS case. Refusing the FMS case cost FNH the sale.
In a separate note, Sandy Henderson—Beretta’s Channel Marketing Manager for Law Enforcement & Military—was very kind in giving me a detailed explanation of SAKO’s M10 Multi Caliber Configurable Sniper Weapon, the company’s entry to SOCOM’s Precision Sniper Rifle (SPR) competition. The M10 is an impressive weapon, reconfigurable from .308 Win to .300 Win Mag. to .338 Lapua Mag. with no extra tools than the ones included with the rifle. SAKO’s renowned expertise in bolt-action firearms clearly makes the M10 one of the strongest contenders for the SPR contract. Mr. Betzold also pointed out that if the M10 is selected as the SPR, it would be also available via FMS to international customers.
Kudos to Beretta for its commitment to FMS!
What other companies do you see using FMS effectively? Do you agree with this approach?