LITHGOW’s small arms industry is on the hunt for new markets, recently putting in a tender to arm NSW police officers.
The arms factory, owned by international defence tech company Thales, has bid for the right to produce a high performing rifle for the force, with specific modifications for its use by police.
If it was successful, the rifles would be produced from the Lithgow Arms factory.
Director of integrated weapons and sensors in Thales Australia’s armaments business, Graham Evenden, said a major advantage of a NSW supply company would be access to a speedy line of repair, which would be undertaken on site at Lithgow.
“In some cases it can be a very long wait to get parts back from overseas,” he said.
“Being based in NSW would have major logistic benefits.”
The bid was placed in January and the company is currently waiting on results.
A move into the NSW police market would be a natural one for Lithgow Arms, which already produces F90 rifles for the Australian Defence Force.
Thales has delivered 30,000 F90 rifles to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as part of a $100 million contract that also included the provision of rifles, grenade launchers, spare parts and other accessories.
The F90 and its associated parts have all been produced in Lithgow, from its design on through the assembly and on to packing and shipping.
In the defence force, the rifle will be known as the Enhanced F88 (EF88), which is an enhancement of the original Austeyr F88.
One of the features of the F90 design which has drawn attention during testing is its easily integrated range of accessories, including fore-grips, alternative magazines and suppressors. The design includes an integrated side-loading grenade launcher with easy assembly.
They are known to be light weight, compact and easily transported.
The delivery of this contract to the ADF is a continuation of Lithgow’s long-standing ties to military arms production, starting with the founding of the arms factory in 1912.
In 2010, Thales moved into design and the F90 was the first rifle designed in Lithgow.
Lithgow Arms currently has 126 full time equivalent workers in Lithgow, 23 casuals and five apprentices.