Thales Australia has launched the newest update to its F90 bullpup assault rifle, at DSEI 2017. The weapon, which is the pre-production version of the prototype F90 Export shown off at IDEX 2017, sports a host of improved features versus both the legacy AUG and the F90. Thales released a press release describing the rifle, just prior to DSEI.
There have been some changes to the rifle since we saw the prototype that at IDEX. Perhaps most prominently, gone are the bolted-together receiver halves, replaced by the more traditional seamless vibration welding shared with the rest of the AUG family. A longer barrel, new flash hider with thread protector (presumably removable for mounting a suppressor) complete the visible changes from the IDEX prototypes. Thales advertises the F90MBR as a lightweight, modular weapon, featuring multiple barrel lengths, 3.25 kg (7.17 lb) weight, and “over the beach” capability. Interestingly, the company’s brochure on the weapon emphasizes a 600 meter effective range, as well. For left-handed shooters, the F90MBR includes an enlarged shell deflector to allow shooting from the left shoulder, even if the right-hand kit is installed (a left hand ejection kit is available for the rifle).
Eric Graves of Soldier Systems Daily reports Thales representatives assured him that the F90MBR’s feed ramps featured fully compatibility with the US Army’s new M855A1 round, which sports a hardened steel tip that can prematurely wear out some receiver designs. The F90MBR features a full steel trunnion/feed ramp design, so this does not surprise me.