Thales Unveils Lightweight F90 Assault Rifle
PARIS — Thales unveiled its lightweight F90 5.56mm assault rifle for the Australian army at the Eurosatory trade show, which opened June 11.
The Australian authorities awarded Thales’ Australian subsidiary an AU$8.25 million contract to upgrade the current F88 SA2 rifle on Dec. 8.
Under the contract, Thales will continue development work on the F90 with a target of full qualification by December to be ready for production in the first quarter of 2013, said Graham Evenden, Thales development manager for soldier systems.
Thales is cooperating with Steyr Mannlicher of Austria “to pursue specific opportunities, such as the French DGA Famas replacement project,” the French company said in a statement.
The Famas is Nexter’s assault rifle used by the French army.
The next phase in the Australian F90 program is a manufacturing contract, with a potential production of 23,000 to 50,000 units starting in 2014.
A standard version of the F90 is 20 percent lighter than the F88 SA2 and is 30 percent lighter than the SA2 fitted with a grenade launcher.
The F90 incorporates the reliability of the SA2, Evenden said, pointing to firing tests in which four SA2s fired 24,000 rounds, or 6,000 rounds each, and experienced two stoppages.