Home' Army News : February 16th 2012 Contents DEFENCE TRANSITIONS
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Army February 16, 2012
Sgt Andrew Hetherington
BY LATE 2014, soldiers should be
carrying an improved, lighter ver-
sion of the F88 Austeyr.
The Contract for Project Land 125
3C Enhanced F88 was signed with
Thales Australia on December 8 last
year to improve the overall capabili-
ties of the weapon.
Project director Maj Simon Johns
said the project's key purpose was
to enhance what was already a very
capable weapon in a number of areas.
"Thales Australia is focusing on
meeting a demanding user require-
ment by addressing the human factors
and design elements associated with
the weapon through a reduction in
weight and improvements to its bal-
ance," Maj Johns said.
"A new grenade launcher made by
Madritcsh will be carefully integrated
with the rifle and provide better bal-
ance and access to improved muni-
tions currently incompatible with the
in-service M203 launcher.
"The provision of three Picatinny
rails will allow the operator to attach
other ancillary items to the weapon.
Items could include a range of opti-
cal sights, bipod legs, torches or laser
aimers and pointers."
The extended Picatinny top
rail will allow users to easily adjust
sights to suit individual eye relief and
also allow more than one sight to be
mounted on top of the weapon.
"The weight-saving target for
the project is ambitious but Thales
Australia intend to shave up to 500
grams off the weight of the current F88
-- a significant amount of weight to lose
off an assault rifle," Maj Johns said.
They will achieve this by redesign-
ing the barrel and the receiver group.
"When these improvements are
implemented they will lighten the sol-
dier's burden and allow him or her to
engage targets with greater speed and
Light, accurate, modular
Another key advantage will be
to make the new Austeyr compat-
ible with coalition partners' and
allies' ammunition. This will provide
access to munitions with improved
terminal effects without sacrificing
the Austeyr's renowned reputation for
Soldiers and the Defence Science
and Technology Organisation (DSTO)
have played an important role in the
The DSTO Human Factors team
at Puckapunyal assessed the initial
design during December, using the
experience of 10 soldiers about to
deploy to East Timor with Timor-
Leste Task Group 4.
The trial troops were selected to
provide a spread of dimensions and to
incorporate left and right-hand prefer-
"They were encouraged to use the
weapon in a manner natural to them
and to provide their feedback on what
they thought of it," Maj Johns said.
From the feedback, Thales
Australia made modifications to the
weapon's pistol grip and refined previ-
Since the December trials, Thales
Australia has also completed several
additional design reviews and is pro-
ducing more trial weapons to undergo
continued user testing during April
Questions for the Land 125 3C Enhanced F88
Project Team can be directed to Maj Simon
Johns at firstname.lastname@example.org
New Austeyr in development will be lighter and offer more options for integrating ancillary equipment
Research and development: A soldier tests a prototype model of
the proposed new F88 Austeyr in development at Thales. Inset, artists
impressions show possible variants of the new, modular weapon system.
THE future of combat clothing and
acoustic technology in Australia
is looking bright after both sectors
passed their first 'health check' on
The health checks will help
ensure Australia can remain self suf-
ficient in these industries, according
to Defence Materiel Minister Kim
"Health checks ensure that these
important industries will continue to
operate in Australia," he said.
"They examine Australia's abil-
ity to undertake important indus-
try activities such as developing
a standard combat uniform, and
designing and installing acoustic
"This includes our ability to
develop new technologies in these
Mr Carr said the checks showed
the industries were in good shape
to continue providing equipment to
However, the sectors would need
ongoing monitoring as Defence
refined its domestic supply chain
requirements in 2015.
Local industries in good shape: minister
Sewing seeds of success: The Australian
combat clothing industry recently passed its first
'health check' aimed at ensuring the country
maintains crucial Defence-related research and
manufacturing capabilities. Photo by Cpl Raymond Vance
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