After a few failed attempts, the Australian Army has finally decided on their next-gen rifle. They will be upgrading their Austeyr F88 (Australia’s Steyr AUG variant) to make is more modular, ambidextrous, lighter and easier to accessorize. New ammunition (presumably a modern 5.56mm load), an underbarrel 40mm grenade launcher and electronic control system will be developed alongside the rifle. The upgrade will be done by Thales Australia.
The full list of upgrades are:
- Longer top rail, introduction of side and bottom rails – significantly increases the number of weapon ancillaries that can be attached.
- Designed for Interoperable Ammunition – designed for optimal performance with new interoperable F1A1 5.56mm ammunition.
- Length of Pull has been shortened by 15mm – improves the ability of the operator to handle the weapon while wearing body armor.
- Modular Lower Fore End – enables operator to change ancillaries and roles in the field. Floating Barrel – removal of attachment point from barrel increases the accuracy and reliability of the weapon.
- Fluted Barrel – reduction in barrel weight and increase in performance.
- Folding Cocking Handle – improvement in ergonomics and correction of vulnerability in current design.
- Improved Butt design – increased strength to improve safety, ejection port cover recessed to improved operator interface and reliability.
- Provision for Electronic Architecture – to allow centralized control and power management of ancillary devices. Bolt-together Butt – to allow access to fit, maintain and repair the Electronic Architecture components.
- Improved Butt Plate – Improves operator interface and correction of vulnerability in current design.
- Improved Grenade Launcher Mount – improves the balance of the weapon, reducing operator fatigue and increasing accuracy.
- Side-opening Grenade Launcher – can fire all currently available 40mm low velocity grenades (current M203 Launcher is limited).
- Improved Grenade Launcher safety – reduces possibility of unauthorized discharge and danger to operator in the event of misfire.