Defence has signed a $100-million contract with Thales to produce new rifles, grenade launchers, spare parts and various ancillaries for the ADF, at their facility in Lithgow, NSW.
Thales’s F90 (to be known in Defence as the EF88) rifle is to enter Australian Defence Force service, marking a new era for our soldiers and their weapons.
Watch F90/EF88 assault rifle in action. Video courtesy of Thales.
The F90 is a light, versatile weapon that meets the highest standards of performance and reliability, and has been well received by soldiers in various trials.
Thales’s Armaments Vice President in Australia Kevin Wall said, “Our soldiers deserve the best possible equipment, and the F90 delivers on all counts”.
“Enhancing the Austeyr is the most cost-effective way to deliver a capability upgrade, and we’ve worked closely with Defence and Army units to design, test and manufacture this world-class weapon,” Mr Wall said.
“We’re now looking forward to getting it into troops’ hands as quickly as possible.
“The F90 is born from over 100 years of engineering and manufacturing expertise at Lithgow, and this is the latest chapter in Lithgow Arms’ long contribution to Australian military operations.”
In Australian Defence Force service, the rifle will be known as the Enhanced F88 or EF88, marking a significant enhancement of the original Austeyr F88.
Two versions will be delivered – a standard rifle with a 20-inch barrel, plus a carbine with a 16-inch barrel.
Deliveries to the ADF will begin in the next few weeks with total fleet delivery phased over six years.
Thales is also exploring export opportunities for the F90 in various markets around the world, while also developing further enhancements for the rifle, which is fitted for but not with electronic architecture including centralised power as a key future-proofing measure.