ABOVE: Thale’s F90MBR
At DSEI 2017, Thales (Thales, Australia) launched the next generation of the F90 rifle, the F90 MBR (Modular Bullpup Rifle). The F90MBR is the new generation assault rifle for integrated forces. The F90MBR is built on the basis of the battle-proven F90 platform, used by the Australian Defense Forces (ADF), delivering the flexibility and interoperability needed by the modern warfighter. The bullpup design uses a longer barrel length and optimum muzzle velocity that provides superior stopping power and range in a compact and lightweight package.
The 5.56x45mm NATO caliber F90MBR is a gas-operated (short stroke piston, rotary bolt with seven locking lugs) semi- and fully automatic assault rifle. It is available in three interchangeable barrel lengths: 508mm (20-inch), 407mm (16-inch) and 360mm (14-inch CQB). The F90MBR’s modularity makes it very easy to change barrel lengths. That makes it mission-configurable through a wide range of accessories and supports the needs of the modern, integrated soldier. All variants have cold hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels ensuring long life and precision. The F90MBR is one of the lightest assault rifles on the market at 3.25 kilograms. Extensive use of lightweight, robust materials ensures the F90MBR can be relied upon at critical times. It is fitted with ambidextrous controls to enable fast reaction times and rapid target engagement, and with the compact form, is a clear advantage in close-quarters combat. The F90MBR has NATO standard rails and magazines. M16/M4 magazines can be used. The F90 has a transparent Steyr AUG type magazine. The F90MBR therefore ensures compatibility and interoperability with existing weapons used by allied forces. The F90MBR can be packaged with rifle accessory and ancillary equipment in an integrated mission system to provide an operator with a modular and tailorable small arms solution for any tactical scenario. In seconds, each rifle can be seamlessly fitted with the 40x46mm-grenade launcher and grenade-launcher sight by the soldier—a potentially critical and decisive capability in combat.
The F90MBR is well suited for use with amphibious forces, enabling operators to swim with the weapon and fire the weapon immediately and reliably after emergence from the water. As mentioned above, the F90MBR is the new generation of the existing F90 assault rifle—proven and in-service with the ADF. The F90 underwent a rigorous program of extensive testing and development over the past decade with the Australian Department of Defense to ensure the F90MBR is a superior weapon, designed to deliver the dependability, reliability and flexibility needed to support the modern, integrated soldier. The contract with the Australian Department of Defence and with Thales was 30,000 rifles and around 2,500 SL40 grenade launchers.
Thales Australia answered the RFI on the Auftragsbekanntmachung, Lieferauftrag: Gewehre Deutschland-Koblenz, 2017/S 078-15142 (BAAINBw) regarding the replacement for the G36: System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr (Sturmgewehr = assault rifle).
On Oct. 10, 2017, the BAAINBw (Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr) announced in a press release that the new Sturmgewehr for Spezialkräfte and Kommando Spezialkräfte der Marine would be acquired from Heckler & Koch. The new SOF assault rifle is the HK416A7 (Bundeswehr designation: G95) in caliber 5.56x45mm, the successor to the G36KA4. It will therefore most likely not be a bullpup assault rifle that is chosen as the new System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr.
Thales F90MBR Specifications:
Caliber/Twist Rate: 5.56mmx45 NATO / 1in 7-in (228mm)
Overall Length With 360mm (14-in) barrel: 653mm
With 407mm (16-in) barrel: 701mm
With 508mm (20-in) barrel: 802mm
Barrel Length: Interchangeable 360mm (14-in), 407mm (16-in) or 508mm (20-in) barrels. Six external flutes. Cold hammer forged. Chrome-lined including chamber.
Rifling: Six grooves; right-hand twist
Weight With 360mm (14-in) barrel: 3.15kg
With 407mm (16-in) barrel: 3.25kg
With 508mm (20-in) barrel: 3.39kg
Magazine Capacity: Detachable double stacked 30-round NATO/STANAG magazine
Trigger: One-position or two-position trigger with select fire function
Safety: Two-position (Safe/Fire) or three-position lateral push through safety (Safe/Semi-Auto/Full-Auto)
Stock: Synthetic; high-impact fiber reinforced polymer
Bolt: Rotating bolt with seven locking lugs. Rifle can be easily modified for left- or right-hand ejection.
Action: Short stroke gas-piston operated