Success for Thales’s EF88 rifle

Mission accomplished for the Thales F90 assault rifle, whose EF88 (Enhanced F88) variant sold to the Australian army has just completed a first operational deployment in Iraq with the soldiers of Task Group Taji 5, whose main mission is to train the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).

Task Taji 5 member practices shooting during Operation Okra (Credit: ADF / ABIS Chris Beerens)

The “extreme” conditions of the Iraqi theatre made it possible to test the weapon under real conditions against the formidable trio formed by sand, dust and heat. “The EF88 has proven itself as an extremely reliable, accurate and versatile weapon which has gained the praise of not only Australian personnel but also our New Zealand counterparts and coalition partners,” commented Colonel Steve d’Arcy, commander of Task Group Taji 5.

Major Timothy Soper, who commands the Task Group Taji Logistics Company, said the EF88’s superior accuracy, robustness and weight identified during testing and trials had been confirmed in its first full operational deployment.

Following the signing of a €67m contract in 2015, Thales will deliver EF8830,000 EF88 assault rifles, 2,500 SL40 grenade launchers, as well as spare parts and ancillary equipment in the upcoming four years. The ensemble is produced at the Lithgow site in New South Wales.

These positive returns are likely to support the marketing of the latest product in the range, the F90MBR unveiled at the DSEI show in London last September (see our article here). And, why not, inject a beneficial ripple effect to other “Made by Thales” technologies produced in Australia, such as the Hawkei light tactical vehicle.

The latter is currently in the starting blocks in Poland and Indonesia. The Hawkei is “ideally placed to provide Polabd’s defence forces with the world-class protected vehicle capability they need,” Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said on a visit to Poland on 1 November. If successful, the Polish Hawkei would be added to the 1,100 platforms ordered by the Australian Defence Forces, providing “additional work and job security for their Hawkei workforce and the supply chain to Thales,” he added.