Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR Sept 2014 Contents 20 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter SEPT 2014
short, 7.62mm is not the answer to everything.
“Given the inherent advantages of 5.56mm, various
efforts are currently underway to increase its lethality.
“Like the US, Thales is well on the way in
developing 5.56mm F9 Enhanced Lethality Small
Arms Ammunition (ELSAA) that will provide consistent
rapid incapacitation effect in a 5.56mm weight
package. In fact, when packaged with the Thales
F90 assault rifle, it provides a lightweight, reliable,
modular and adaptable system with stepped increase
in incapacitation – advantages delivered through
Thales taking a Close Combat Lethality Systems view
of the close combatant’s challenges and environment.”
APDR: Which is more cost effective - an F88
upgrade or a full replacement?
Evenden: “An F88 upgrade is by far the most
effective option, especially when compared to a small
arms replacement program that would be very costly.
“Adopting a new weapon is an expensive activity.
The capital cost of a modern assault rifle varies,
of course, but the rifles themselves are relatively
inexpensive compared to the changes that need to be
made to support the fielding of a new weapon system.
“These are extensive, and include:
• Training: initial conversion, ongoing weapon
impact on non-weapon related training for users,
maintainers and logisticians.
• Equipment: related equipment required to use and
sustain the weapon.
• Personnel: Does the equipment require an
increase in manning in field or supporting units?
• Information: manuals, logistics support systems,
• Doctrine: The determination in any change
in doctrine required to optimise the capability
enhancements afforded by the system.
• Organisational structure: Are new structures
required in order to use and sustain in user and
• Infrastructure: Includes changes in storage
facilities on bases and racking systems in vehicles.
• Logistics: Changes in logistic support processes.
“So the majority of the expense lies in the wider
capability costs rather than the initial purchase of the
weapon, and these wider costs mount up significantly.
“Given that most modern armies
have 5.56mm weapons, and that
no breakthrough technology leap
is imminent, it’s difficult to justify
the implementation and whole
of life costs of adopting a new
“Evidence for this is clear, with
ABCA countries such as the
US, UK and Canada choosing
the prudent course of upgrading
their existing weapons to deliver
greater capability. The US has
cancelled the M4 replacement
program and opted for an upgrade to resolve the M4’s
many well-documented reliability challenges.
“The UK has stayed with the SA80, improving its
reliability, and more recently adding a rail adapter
Austeyr grenade launcher trials
4/09/14 2:28 PM
Asia Pacific Defence Reporter SEPT 2014 21
system, new flash hider and new colour. However, this
has added extra weight, all of it forward of the centre
of gravity. Additionally, Canada is working with Colt to
upgrade C7 and C8 weapons, and is also looking at
“And of course, Australia is upgrading the F88 family
to the F90 under the Land 125 Phase 3C program.
“The exception may be New Zealand, which is
unusual among ABCA nations in considering
expensive replacement options for its F88 fleet.”
APDR: What are the choices offered by Thales?
Evenden: “Backed by 100 years of experience and
manufacturing of weapons for Australian soldiers
since WWI to the battlefields of today, and evolved
from the Austeyr family, the F90 builds on this battle
proven platform to meet the needs of today’s military
forces. Its bullpup design for longer barrel length and
optimum muzzle velocity delivers superior stopping
power in a compact package.
“Thales is offering its innovative F90 rifle family.
This comes in the standard F90 with 16” barrel, the
F90M has the 20” barrel, and we are working on the
F90CQB with 14” barrel.
“The F90 is one of the lightest assault rifles on the
market at 3.25 kg, enabling fast reaction times and
rapid target acquisition, a clear advantage in close
quarters combat. NATO standard rails and NATO
ammunition interoperability provide adaptability for a
wide range of mission profiles.
“Packing a punch, the F90 family includes an
integrated side loading 40 mm grenade launcher that
can be attached in just a few seconds by the soldier –
a potentially decisive capability providing flexibility on
operations. The grenade launcher itself is equipped
with a lightweight robust quadrant sight that ensures
rapid target acquisition, can be used at night, and is
compatible with night vision goggles.”
APDR: What stage is Thales at with LAND 125
Evenden: “F90 and the SL40 Grenade Launcher
have finished qualification testing, and both have
achieved Provisional Design Acceptance from Army.
“Second pass approval remains scheduled for June
“Around 1 million 5.56mm rounds and thousands
of 40mm grenades of various types were fired in
the qualification testing. All tests were conducted in
accordance with NATO and other international and
national specified test conditions.”
APDR: How much of the current physical F88
AUG rifle is preserved in upgrading to the F90
Evenden: “The F90 is a major upgrade over the
A soldier from the Reconstruction Task Force
4/09/14 2:28 PM
9/4/14 9:38 PM
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