Thales and Australian Army Headquarters have started jointly researching, developing and designing options for the next generation Close Combat Family of Weapons, the company said in a statement.
The weapons family will include the next generation close combatant assault rifle, light machine gun (LMG) and associated ammunition to support Army’s emerging requirements.
The joint research and development program will focus on new, disruptive technologies to radically advance the relationship between soldiers and small arms, The research and development program will harness Thales’s existing extensive Australian supply chain, new SMEs, and its network of research organisations. This program will support Army’s strategy to establish and maintain a capability edge for the dismounted combat capability ensuring Australian soldiers are equipped to anticipate and defend against contemporary threats.
The project will develop working level prototypes for a Close Combatant Assault Rifle and Light Machine Gun over the next 3 years, while examining all aspects of a weapon system, including the performance and terminal effects of ammunition. Australian Department of Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), through the Lethality System Program, is co-partner in the project and are involved in the governance arrangements for the development activity.
The aim is to have both weapon systems ready to compete for the Close Combatant Family of Weapons in Tranche 2 of the Lethality System project (LAND 159) by late 2023.
“This is an exciting initiative with one of our existing industry partners. As we seek to evolve the soldier combat system, the lethality component is a critical sub system. There are many challenges to ensure we have a capability edge over current and emerging threats, and the Australian Army welcomes the opportunity to explore some emerging disruptive technologies associated with complete weapon system design,” said Colonel Stuart Davies, Director Dismounted Combat Program, Army Headquarters.
“We are committed to maintaining the capability advantage of the Australian Army as rapid advances in digital technology bring increasing threats as well as new capabilities,” said Graham Evenden, Director Soldier Weapon Systems.
Thales Australia has recently announced it will double the size of its Small Arms Research & Development team in Lithgow as it anticipates the future technology requirements of a more digitised battlespace for the Australian Defence Force (ADF), and maximises the benefit of new manufacturing processes, novel materials and AI.