by Richard Tomkins
Sydney (UPI) Sep 23, 2014
A new assault rifle for the Australian Defense Force is entering low-rate production under a Department of Defense contract.
The weapon by Thales Australia is the F90, a lightweight 5.56mm rifle that recently achieved Provisional Design Acceptance following an extensive testing period.
The rifle is in a bull-pup design, has an open architecture that incorporates a NATO tri-rail system and an integrated side-loading 40mm grenade launcher that can be rapidly attached.
"This is a major milestone in the F90 story," said Kevin Wall, Vice President Armaments at Thales Australia.
"Backed by over a century of military weapons experience, Thales's Lithgow (Australia) facility will now begin manufacturing F90 rifles as part of a de-risking exercise designed to smooth the transition in production from the existing in-service weapon to the F90."
Thales said the F90 is based on the F88 rifle, a licensed copy of the Austrian Steyr AUG rifle, now used by Australian troops, and will come in five variants, including a marksman model with a longer barrel and a carbine variant for close combat.
Details of the low-rate production contract, such as value and number of units to be made, were not disclosed.
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