Lithgow Arms Factory Announces New Rifle
Lithgow Arms continues the development of a new automatic rifle for the Australian armed forces. Based on designs from Melbourne-based Wedgetail Industries, the new rifle appears to be a departure from Lithgow Arms’ F90 bullpup platform, however, Wedgetail have previously showcased, at LandForces2022, a prototype 6.8mm chambered F90. In December, Thales Australia and Wedgetail Industries signed an agreement that will see the Wedgetail-developed rifle manufactured at Lithgow if it is selected as part of the Australian Army’s upcoming rifle tender.
Currently referred to as the Australian Combat Assault Rifle (ACAR). According to Thales Australia “Wedgetail and Thales Australia’s Lithgow Arms initiated a design and development effort on the new weapon system in early 2022. The work was undertaken at Lithgow Arms’ C3 – a small arms and weapons systems ‘incubator’ established on site at the Lithgow facility designed to assist and bring on board small-to-medium enterprises (SME) in the defence industry.”
Photo: ACAR (Lithgow Arms/Thales Australia)
The ACAR is an AR platform-based weapon with variants chambered in 5.56x45mm, .300BLK and 7.62x51mm developed.
Matt Duquemin, Thales Australia’s Director Integrated Weapons and Sensors, said, “We are proud to work together with Wedgetail – helping develop and grow the innovation and ingenuity of Australian SMEs by bringing down costly barriers to entry often experienced by Australian companies in the defence industry”.
Photo: A 6.8mm F90-pattern bullpup (Wedgetail Industries)
The ACAR is described as being at the pre-production stage and ready for full-rate production. Unsurprisingly a version chambered in the new US Next Generation Squad Weapon cartridge, 6.8x51mm, has also been developed and is undergoing final qualification testing. Wedgetail have already confirmed that an Australian-manufactured version of the round has been developed. The ACAR is in a development spiral to refine with weapon, develop variants required by the Australian military and integrate it with accessories such as optics and night vision devices.
The Australian Defense Force is currently undertaking its Lethality System Project – LAND 159. The first Tranche of which saw new sniper systems and close combat weapons selected back in October 2022. Tranche 2, due for consideration in 2024/2025, will see the selection of new ‘Close Combatant Assault Rifle, Machine Guns, Direct Fire Support Weapons’. With a strong showing from the SIG Sauer-Aquaterro partnership in Tranche 1, it can be expected that Lithgow Arms’ ACAR will face competition from SIG’s XM7.
It looks like a nice weapon.
I thought our military nowadays was equipped with the Steyr Austrian rifle after we old guys used the FN SLR 7.65mm during the Vietnam era.
I saw a photo of Oliver, the SAS Regiment hero being accused of murder, with a weapon with which I’m not familiar and it may have looked like the new ACAR. Any idea what the SAS used in Afghanistan?