F90 rifle

Thales has received a contract from the Australian Department of Defence to supply F90 assault rifles to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Under the terms of A$100m ($73.6m) contract, the company will supply 30,000 F90 rifles and 2,500 SL40 grenade launchers, as well as spare parts and various ancillaries.

Two versions of the rifle will be delivered, including a standard rifle with a 20in barrel, and a carbine with a 16in barrel.

"We’ve worked closely with defence and army units to design, test and manufacture this world-class weapon."

Thales Australia Armaments vice-president 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.

"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."

Manufacturing work under the contract is scheduled to be carried out at the company’s facility in Lithgow, regional New South Wales.

Deliveries to the ADF are set to commence in the next few weeks and will take place over six years.

In ADF service, the rifle will be known as the Enhanced F88 (EF88), marking a significant enhancement of the original Austeyr F88, a modified version of the Steyr AUG used by the service since 1988.

The EF88 rifle will be equipped with an enhanced day sight, foregrip and a grenade launcher attachment for grenadiers, and is scheduled to be issued more broadly to ADF from 2016 as part of the rollout of LAND 125 Phase 3C – Soldier Enhancement Version 2-Lethality project.

Thales is currently exploring export opportunities for the F90 in various markets worldwide.

Image: The F90 assault rifle has been well-received by soldiers in various trials. Photo: courtesy of Thales.