Thales MBR 5.56 mm assault rifle. (Janes/Amael Kotlarski)
Thales Australia and Lithgow Arms revealed further details of their latest small-arms developments at DSEI 2023 in London.
Speaking to Janes, representatives from the companies outlined work undertaken on a range of rifles, including the F90 Modular Bullpup Rifle (MBR). Essentially an improved F90 rifle, development of the MBR began in 2017 with an aim of improving the weapon's overall ergonomics and functionality. A new ambidextrous magazine release was repositioned on the front of the trigger, allowing for magazines to be released using the control hand's index finger. The magazine well was redesigned to accept STANAG pattern magazines and enable a drop-free magazine release, and the ambidextrous bolt-release catch was redesigned to work with STANAG magazines. In addition, Lithgow Arms produces an extended rail that features M-LOK interfaces, which is compatible with both the F90 and F90 MBR. This handguard was developed to accommodate modern shooting stances and techniques.
Representatives also discussed the Australian Combat Assault Rifle (ACAR), a series of ArmaLite 10 (AR-10) and ArmaLite 15 (AR-15) pattern rifles chambered for 7.62×51 and 5.56×45 cartridges respectively. Based on a Wedgetail Industries design, the weapons are manufactured at the Lithgow Arms facility in New South Wales. The ACAR are gas-operated weapons (using the Stoner gas expansion bleed-off system, commonly referred to as direct impingement) and feature fully ambidextrous controls. The gas blocks have an adjustable gas regulator and the weapons were displayed with 3D-printed sound suppressors designed by Wedgetail Industries.