Thales Lithgow to target increased civilian market exports

Thales has signed to build Enhanced F88 rifles for the Australian Defence Force, and has said this would assist it to also target increased exports.

Last month it was reported that the company’s Lithgow armaments factory would provide the rifles as part of the LAND 125 Phase 3C – Soldier Enhancement Version 2 – Lethality project. The rifles are worth a reported $100 million of the $467 million upgrade.

Company spokesman Graham Evenden said the contract provided a bedrock on which to build, and the company would be seeking to increase exports for the civilian market, in which it has had recent success.

"Absolutely, we've had some small export success with our civil product range already into the UK, we're certainly looking to widen that and to Europe and also into the US," Evenden told the ABC.

Diversification was also a possibility, he added.

The Austeyr rifles have been made since 1988, and are manufactured under licence from Steyr of Austria.

UPI reports that two versions of Austeyr will be delivered to Defence, a “standard rifle with a 20-inch barrel and a carbine with a 16-inch barrel”.

Thales said 30,000 rifles would be supplied over the next six years, with the first deliveries to be made in the coming few weeks.