Lewis Machine and Tool has won a contract from the New Zealand Defense Forces to completely replace the Steyr AUG A1 with their 5.56x45mm CQB16 platform, coming on top of eight competitors. The contract is for 8,800 rifles, while the Army has around 6,500 troops. This news is groundbreaking, as I would certainly say, LMT is one of the first of the American and smaller based AR manufacturers to bid on and win a contract to completely replace the existing service rifle with a modern military. They already had great success with their 7.62x51mm L129A1 and the British Army, but this contract is supplying an entire army. Interestingly enough, the rifle beat out H&Ks and Sig Sauer’s entries (I would assume they submitted their piston op guns, there goes the piston vs gas debate!). Either way, big news for the AR world. From Jane’s Defense-
The New Zealand MoD was authorised in May 2014 to undertake a tender to purchase 8,800 ‘off-the-shelf’ replacement rifles and associated accessories. A key requirement is that the new weapon with suitable sights should be able to detect, identify, and engage adversaries at both close quarters and at distances of up to 500 m in daylight.
A request for proposals closed on 12 November 2014, and following an evaluation eight companies were selected for trials that were undertaken between 2 March and 1 June 2015. The trials tested rifles provided by Beretta Defense Technologies (represented by a local branch); Ceska Zbrojovka; Colt Canada Corp; FN Herstal; Steyr Mannlicher; SIG Sauer (represented by New Zealand dealer XTEK Ltd); Heckler & Koch; and LMT.
IHS Jane’s understands that LMT offered CQB16 variants with 406 mm and 457 mm barrels for testing.
The MoD notification said the new rifle is expected to be introduced into service by 2016-17.