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Australia buys the EF88 [F90] new generation assault rifle for its Armed Forces

CANBERRA, (BM) – The Australian Department of Defense decided to additionally purchase 8.5 thousand EF88 assault rifles (also known as the F90) for the country’s Armed Forces, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

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According to Jane’s, previously the military department has already ordered 30 thousand of these 5.56 mm assault rifles to the local Thales company.

Secretary of Defense Linda Reynolds said the acquisition of additional EF88 assault rifles would not only improve the combat capabilities of the Australian forces, but would also allow more staff to be hired at the Thales Australia plant in Lithgow (New South Wales), which would have a positive effect on the socio-economic situation in the region.

“This purchase will allow the disposal of obsolete weapons, reducing the cost of maintenance and maintenance, as well as simplify the training of fighters,” said Linda Reynolds.

She added that, compared to previous-generation assault rifles, the EF88 “significantly improved the soldier’s capabilities by increasing range and accuracy, improving ergonomics and reducing the weight of weapons.”

According to the Secretary of Defense of Australia, additional machines will be delivered to all units of the army.

A contract with Thales Australia in August 2015 was worth Australian $ 100 million (US $ 70 million). In addition to 30 thousand EF88 assault rifles, the Australian military should receive about 2.5 thousand Steyr Mannlicher SL40 grenade launchers. The term of the contract is 2021.

The EF88 (F90) machine was a further development of the F88 model, which in turn was a licensed copy of the Austrian Steyr AUG machine. Compared with the prototype, the F90 has become lighter: 0.5 kg in the basic version and 1.6 kg with an installed grenade launcher.

With a structural similarity with the Steyr AUG, the F90 has a number of differences from the Austrian prototype. In particular, the Australian submachine gun received a fixed (non-replaceable) barrel. Local designers abandoned the front folding handle in favor of a Picatinny rail.

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For the convenience of the fighters, the plastic butt with a characteristic crest under the cheek has been modified. Also, changes have been made to the trigger mechanism. The introduction of a slide delay allowed to accelerate the reload of weapons.

Australia is arming itself. What will the ‘kangaroos’ buy with the new defense budget?

According to the recently announced documents regarding changes in the planning of Australia’s defense system since 2020, the country has increased its planned defense spending from approximately USD 135 to USD 187 billion.

Additional funds will be allocated in the coming decade for modernization but also for the acquisition of completely new units.

The previous amount was a forecast from the Australian White Paper of 2016. Since then, as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the change on July 1, the world has become “poorer, more dangerous and disordered.”

In particular, he pointed to the People’s Republic of China, which has now led to irritations with almost all of its neighbors. Against this background, the relationship of this country with more distant Australia does not look better, especially since Canberra is now very assertively criticizing the PRC, growing almost to enemy number 1.

Increased expenses are to serve to increase Australia’s presence in the region at risk of potential conflict, as well as to improve its partnership with the countries lying there.

For this purpose, two additional multi-purpose supply ships are to be purchased, “up to eight” anti-mine and hydrographic units based on Arafura patrol ships, the planned number of which has been increased from three to four. In addition, six Cape patrol boats are to be purchased. New landing vehicles are also to be purchased.

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Development plans also include increasing the fleet of C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft and Airbus C-30A MRTT air refueling, which are currently in service with 12 and six units respectively.

The ability to keep the enemy away from Australia and projecting strength away from the home infrastructure are to be increased. In this context, investments in submarines and advanced impact systems are mentioned.

As for the former, the continuation of the new Attack submarine is announced, which is to be obtained in as many as 12 copies. Six currently serving Collins-type ships are to be maintained, to be modernized. The purchase of nine Hunter frigates is also to be continued.

In addition, the new integrated surveillance system is expected to increase the ability to detect underwater threats on approaches to the Australian continent. And the Jindalee radar network (JORN) is also to be developed to include approaches to the east coast of Australia.

The investments are also to include new sea mines, the successor to the large patrol boat of the Australian Coast Guard ADV Ocean Protector and a new vessel to support possible allied operations in the Pacific. This also promises to introduce modernization to both Canberra-type landing helicopters, which can be seen as a desire to adapt them to take on board short-take fighter jets and vertical landing F-35B.

When it comes to advanced striking systems, first of all, the purchase of new long-range aircraft anti-ship missiles AGM-158C LRASM from the US. For now, it has not been said how many copies of this weapon were purchased, but the estimated cost of this purchase is as yet USD 553 million, and therefore it will be a large purchase, especially since this weapon is to replace the fully used currently used AGM-84 Harpoon missiles, increasing the range destruction from 124 to 370 km.

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Australian Super Hornets are to start moving LRASMs next year and all 24 machines of this type will be integrated with them. Initial operational readiness is expected to be achieved in 2023. Australian F-35 is also to be integrated with LRASM, the acquisition of which is to be continued until it reaches 72 copies.

Their purchases are to be accompanied by the acquisition of modern weapons with a larger range and greater efficiency. Drone accompanying them, which are now being developed on behalf of Australia together with Boeing under the name Loyal Wingman, are also to be bought.

Purchases are also to include reconnaissance and surveillance drone from the MQ-9B Sky Guardian and MQ-4C Triton programs. Purchases of electronic combat aircraft MC-55A Peregrine and marine patrols P-8A Poseidon will be continued. The E-7A Wedgetail and F-18G Growler early warning aircraft will be sought after. It is possible that F-35 will also perform in the latter role.

The investments will also include programs for future weapons: hypersonic missiles, advanced systems systems for aircraft. Australia also wants to increase its self-sufficiency in the conduct of armed conflict. This is to be achieved by further increasing own industrial capabilities, expanded weapon and fuel storage facilities.

The improvement of the ability to respond to hybrid threats will in turn cover issues related to cybersecurity (as well as “offensive capabilities” in the field of cyber), development of special forces, strengthening reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, including those conducted through satellites.

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The Australian Land Army is expected to receive active defense systems that will be installed on Hawkei and Bushmaster armored vehicles. Two regiments of self-propelled howitzers will be purchased (previously planned to acquire one), which are to be built in their own industry.

The purchase of self-propelled artillery is significant because today the Australian Army has only towed howitzers M777. The successor to the M1A1 Abrams tanks will also be introduced, but these vehicles will be upgraded sooner. In addition, purchases of Boxer reconnaissance transporters replacing ASLAV and the program of the future BWP will be continued.

Purchases of unmanned ground vehicles and a wide spectrum of anti-tank weapons are planned (talked about directed energy systems and “smart” mines, alongside the already purchased pp. Spike LR2). The striking capabilities of army aviation, reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence, electronic warfare and network-centric command will also be developed.

In addition, the support that the armed forces will be able to give to civil authorities in the area of ​​response to crises such as natural disasters or medical care will be strengthened, which in the current situation is quite understandable.

What EF88 [F90] assault rifle is?

Assault rifle (automatic) F90 developed by the Australian division of the international concern Thales. The new rifle was first shown to the public in mid-2012, its small-scale production is planned to begin at the Thales-owned arms factory in Lithgow (Lithgow, Australia) in 2013.

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The new machine during the development period wore the EF88 index (Enhanced F88 – improved F88), and is a significant modernization of the F88 submachine gun in service with the armies of Australia and New Zealand – produced in Australia under the license of a copy of the Steyr AUG submachine gun.

Compared with the prototype, the new F90 assault rifle has become significantly lighter (by 0.5 kg. In the basic version and 1.6 kg. – in the version with a grenade launcher), it also promises to be more convenient to use and more reliable.

Structurally, the assault rifle (assault rifle) Thales F90 is based on the Steyr AUG assault rifle, however, there are many differences in the details.

The most significant differences of the new system include a fixed (non-removable) barrel, the rejection of the front folding handle in favor of a universal Picatinny rail, an improved shape of a plastic stock with a characteristic crest under the cheek for easy application.

Also, the trigger mechanism, windows for ejecting spent cartridges and their removable covers, the shape of the trigger guard have undergone modernization. The design of the machine also appeared bolt delay, which allows to accelerate the reload of weapons.

The machine is supposed to be produced in three basic versions – standard with a barrel length of 50 cm, a carbine with a barrel of 40 cm and a special shortened barrel with 36 cm. Specially for the F90 assault rifle in Australia, a lightweight 40-mm caliber grenade launcher was developed, mounted directly on the Picatinny rail, allowing quick installation and removal of the grenade launcher or other accessories.

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A distinctive feature of the grenade launcher is that its trigger is pulled back and in the installed form passes through the window in the enlarged trigger guard of the machine, conveniently located under its own trigger.

Cartridges are powered from plastic stores compatible with the Steyr AUG / F88, however, an export version of the F90 is also being prepared for release, using STANAG (M16) -compatible stores.

Sights are mounted on an elongated Picatinny rail in the upper part of the receiver, base offers Trijcon ACOG optical sights with a magnification of 1.5X or 3.5X.

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