The Australian government said Monday (13 July) that it will buy an additional 8,500 Australian-made Enhanced F88 (EF88) weapon systems to supplement the 30,000 weapons that Thales Australia will deliver to Defence. Compared with previous systems, the EF88 rifle has significantly improved the capability of the soldier through improved range, accuracy, ergonomics and reduced system weight. These additional weapons, which are being delivered under the lethality element of the Soldier Modernisation Programme, will enable increased access to the EF88 across the full and part-time force, particularly Army’s 2nd Division. This acquisition will allow the retirement of older weapons, reducing the cost of sustainment, maintenance and training.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds. (PHOTO: Government File Photo)

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said this additional acquisition of rifles will not only improve the overall capability of the Australian Defence Force, but will also provide a welcome boost to the workforce in regional Australia. “The rifles will be manufactured at the Thales Australia site in Lithgow, New South Wales, which employs around 130 Australians,” Reynolds said.

“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. 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.”

Thales Australia welcomes the government’s announcement that it will procure an additional 8,500 rifles for the Australian Defence Force. The Lithgow designed and manufactured EF88 rifle delivers a capability advantage for Australian soldiers through increased range and accuracy. Thales’s highest priority is ensuring that Defence has the capability that it needs, and maintaining advanced manufacturing of small arms in Lithgow is a key element of this vital sovereign capability.

Over the last three years, Thales’s small arms business has directly supported a supply chain of 300 Australian firms, achieving around 95 percent Australian content in the EF88. Thales is strongly committed to continuing the 110 year heritage of small arms manufacturing in Lithgow, with more than $70m invested over the past 10 years in equipment, site facilities and R&D. Thales’s Lithgow Arms employs approximately 150 people and provides a unique offering to the Small Arms and Munitions Sovereign Industrial Capability – through its world class research, design, development, manufacturing and sustainment services.

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  1. The only problem with those rifles is they didn’t change over to AR mags which would have allowed for better interoperability with allied forced such as NA and USA etc which their rifles all are an AR based platform. Also there are more mag options too and they also could have rolled out some chambered in 6.5 creedmoor too which would have given it that extra punch and distance.


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