The Australian Government is set to buy 8,500 Enhanced F88 (EF88) weapon systems to boost the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) capability.

The Australian-made systems will add to the 30,000 weapons that will be delivered by Thales Australia to the country’s army.

Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “The rifles will be manufactured at the Thales Australia site in Lithgow, New South Wales, which employs around 130 people.

“This acquisition is just another example of the nationwide benefits of the Morrison Government’s unprecedented investment in defence capability, particularly in rural and regional Australia.”

EF88 rifles, which will replace older weapons, feature enhanced range, accuracy, ergonomics and decreased system weight.

The new rifles will not only improve the soldier’s capability but also lower training, sustainment cost and maintenance.

Australia is procuring these systems under the Soldier Modernisation Program’s lethality element.

These weapons can be accessed by the full and part-time force, especially the army’s 2nd Division.

Reynolds added: “It also demonstrates our ongoing commitment to building a strong and sustainable defence industry.  

“This government is doing all we can to help the Australian economy recover from Covid-19. The purchase of these additional EF88 weapon systems will provide certainty to the workforce at Lithgow and support jobs in regional Australia.”

Separately, Rafael Australia has partnered with Brisbane-based engineering company Naeco. The Brisbane-based developed a liquid cooling system for airborne radar, communication and electronic warfare equipment.

The $1.3m strategic industrial partnership will provide new export opportunities for Australian made products while generating local jobs.