A regional New South Wales-based business of Thales Australia has achieved a significant milestone by successfully delivering its locally-produced Australian Combat Assault Rifle (ACAR) to Ukraine. With support from the Australian Department of Defence, a limited quantity of ACAR weapons were dispatched to Ukraine in early July as part of a comprehensive weapons and munitions package provided by Thales Australia’s Lithgow Arms. The ACAR weapons, available in both 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibres, have been supplied to the Ukrainian forces to assess their effectiveness and utility for potential future procurement. To showcase its technological prowess and capabilities, Thales is preparing to unveil the ACAR at the DSEI defense exhibition scheduled for this September in the UK. Meanwhile, ongoing discussions with potential international customers reflect growing interest in the ACAR on the global stage.
Thales has been focusing on refining the ACAR supply chain throughout the first half of 2023. This effort aims to enhance the production process, specifically regarding the forgings of upper and lower receivers. Simultaneously, Thales is actively engaged in international business expansion through its overseas offices, with the goal of exploring export opportunities within military, para-military, and law enforcement sectors.Over the course of the current year, Thales has collaboratively worked with Wedgetail Industries to develop a mass-produced, high-quality Australian assault rifle. The partnership has borne fruit, as the first ACAR sales have been made to domestic law enforcement agencies. Thales anticipates further orders from law enforcement agencies in the short term. Moreover, ACAR weapons are presently undergoing trials with various Australian state and federal law enforcement entities.
The new Australian Combat Assault Rifle (ACAR) will be aimed at fulfilling the needs of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), law enforcement agencies and export customers. The ACAR has been meticulously designed to meet existing and projected technical requirements for an AR-style assault rifle. Its attributes encompass durability, ruggedness, and cost-effectiveness, making it an attractive option for production within Australia. Thales envisions that this approach will lead to streamlined processes, reduced lead times, and comprehensive sustainment packages akin to the arrangements established with the Australian Defence Force. Thales is actively pursuing the industrialization of ACAR by relocating a greater portion of the gun’s components to the Lithgow Arms facility. Upon completion of this transition in the first half of 2024, mass production of ACAR can commence upon receiving orders.
Originally unveiled at the 2022 Land Forces exhibition, the standard ACAR is chambered in 5.56mm NATO and is also offered in 7.62mm and .300 Blackout variants. The forthcoming 6.8mm version is in the final stages of qualification. With specifications that include a 12-inch (305mm) barrel, adjustable buttstock, and compatibility with suppressors, the 5.56mm ACAR measures 730mm in length with the buttstock collapsed and weighs 2.7kg when empty. Magazine capacities range from 20 to 30 rounds. The firearm is equipped with a cold hammer-forged chrome-lined barrel, forged 7075-T6 aluminum alloy upper and lower receivers featuring an anodized finish, and a full-length Picatinny rail on the upper receiver. Lithgow Arms and Wedgetail are currently involved in the spiral development of the ACAR platform to include tailored variants specific to end-user requirements, as well as integrating the weapon with Thales digital sub-systems such as clip-on night vision equipment.