The F90 Austeyr is a nicely improved service rifle, combining a modular 5.56 mm rifle platform with grenade launcher. Future systems will see complete integration, offering warfighters a wide variety of external electronic devices
Military contractor Thales Australia officially unveiled the new F90 issue rifle for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). In addition to more accessory rails, the F90 is nearly a pound lighter than the F88S-A2 it is intended to replace (F89 is the designation of the ADF’s FN Minimi variant) and the large AUG triggerguard has been reshaped to serve as a vertical foregrip. Steyr-Mannlicher is rumored to be partnering with Thales to pursue possible replacement of the French FAMAS rifle as well.
The AUG (Armee Universal Gewehr or universal army rifle) started as a 5.56mm bullpup assault rifle designed in the early 1970s by Steyr that was later adopted by the Austrian Army as the StG 77 (Sturmgewehr 77) in 1977. In the late 1980s the ADF adopted a modified version, dubbed the F88 Austeyr, as a replacement for the then-issued L1A1 SLR and M16A1 rifles and manufactured under contract by Australian Defence Industries (now Thales Australia).
Changes for the F88 Austeyr included a bayonet lug, 1:7 twist to stabilize 62-grain NATO SS109 ammunition and an automatic lockout selector that can disable the full-auto position of the two-stage trigger system, as used on the original AUG. This was upgraded to the F88S-A1, which added a Picatinny rail in place of the Steyr AUG standard 1.5X optical sight, that allows a variety of other optics, lasers and/or night sights. The F88S-A2 featured a modified gas system to increase reliability with other NATO-manufactured SS109 ammunition, specifically U.S.-made M855, an enlarged ejection port, longer rail on top and side rails for mounting lights.