The Australian Department of Defence will boost Australian Army’s weapon systems capability with the purchase of an additional 8,500 Australian made Enhanced F88 (EF88) weapon systems. Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC 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. This will supplement the 30,000 weapons that Thales Australia will deliver to Australian Department of Defence. These additional weapons will enable increased access to the EF88 across the full and part-time force, particularly Army’s 2nd Division.
The rifles will be manufactured at the Thales Australia site in Lithgow, New South Wales which employs around 130 Australians. This acquisition is just another example of the nationwide benefits of the Australian 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. The purchase of these additional EF88 weapon systems will provide certainty to the workforce at Lithgow and support jobs in regional Australia. This acquisition will allow the retirement of older weapons, reducing the cost of sustainment, maintenance and training.
The Australian Army adopted the Steyr AUG A1 and designated it as the F88 Austeyr. The Steyr AUG (Armee-Universal-Gewehr—”universal army rifle”) is an Austrian 5.56×45mm NATO bullpup assault rifle, designed in the 1960s by Steyr-Daimler-Puch and now manufactured by Steyr Mannlicher GmbH & Co KG. It is manufactured under licence from Steyr Mannlicher AG at the Thales Lithgow Small Arms Factory, which is now owned by Thales Australia. It is issued and supplied to the armed forces of Australia and New Zealand and incorporate a crosshair doughnut sight, it is also in service in 30 different countries.
The Lithgow F90 was official adopted the Australian Defence Force and designated it as the Enhanced F88 (EF88) Austeyr. The EF88 is part of the LAND 125 Soldier Combat System project and is a significant upgrade to the F88SA2. It was developed and produced at the Australian Defence Industries factory in Lithgow Small Arms Factory, which is now owned by Thales Australia to fulfil current and near future requirements for the Australian Defence Force. It was first displayed to the public in the middle of 2012 and the initial production was scheduled for 2013. Internally and externally the EF88 is still similar to the Steyr AUG, although it has received many distinctive upgrades and changes.