Many of you following the blog will know I’ve been keeping close tabs on the Thales Australia EF88 assault rifle, being developed under the Land 125 Phase 3C program. I have written a review of the rifle which can be found in Issue 4 of On Duty Magazine, out this month. The rifle can be seen above in its latest iteration, being featured at Land Warfare Conference 2012, which I recently attended in Melbourne. The Madritsch ML40AUS grenade launcher has been finished in a two-tone paint scheme that corresponds with that of the rifle, and Defence have asked that Thales add the optional bolt catch release they were offering with the F90. The rifle is seen here with the ‘Tier 3’ sight Thales intends to offer Defence, a Trijicon TA44SR-10 1.5×16 ACOG.
The bolt catch release can be seen in the image above, directly above the magazine. The lack of the bolt catch release was a point we raised at the range and in the review, and it’s great to hear Defence has changed its stance on this addition.
The ML40AUS grenade launcher, which Thales intends to offer to Defence as part of the system, has recently been the subject of some engineering concerns. Whilst they did not specify what the concerns were, an individual involved with the project referred to these as “significant”, but notes that they “do not threaten the project as a whole”. These concerns are expected to be resolved by the end of the month.
The new ‘Lithgow Arms’ factory marking can be seen on the buttstock in the photo above. This was trademarked by Thales Australia in January of this year. Sources indicate this marking will be applied to all new weapons manufactured at Thales’ Lithgow facility.
The production timeline for the EF88 assault rifle, pending full acceptance from Defence, seems likely to be sometime in 2014 at this stage.
A further update on the weapon system and program timeline is available here.