The Thales EF88 assault rifle has seen its first operational deployment, and the reception is reportedly very warm. According to an article in Defence Connect, the rifles were deployed with Task Group Taji 5 (5th rotation), a battalion of Australian Defence Force advisers for Iraqi forces deployed as part of Operation Okra. The article reads:
Major Timothy Soper, who commands the Task Group Taji Logistics Company, as saying EF88 superior accuracy, robustness and weight identified during testing and trials had been confirmed in its first full operational deployment.
“The tiered design approach applied to the EF88 has resulted in a common system capable of being tailored to land combatant role and task,” MAJ Soper said.
“Pre-deployment and deployed combat shooting training has seen enhanced accuracy and increased lethality through improved effective ranges across the variety of Task Group Taji services, Corps and trades.”
The EF88 entered service in the middle of last year for selected units but Task Group Taji 5 was the first to deploy with the new rifle.
Task Group Taji 5 commander Colonel Steve D’arcy said the EF88 was very popular with personnel and had proven itself as an extremely versatile weapons system.
“Our personnel carry the EF88 as their primary weapon system on a day-to-day basis,” COL D’arcy said.
“The EF88 has proven itself as an extremely reliable, accurate and versatile weapon which has gained the praise of not only Australian personnel but also our New Zealand counterparts and coalition partners.”
The EF88, also known by its export designation “F90”, is an improved version of the F88 “Austeyr”, an Australian-made bullpup rifle based on the Austrian Steyr AUG. The new rifle is lighter than the AUG by about three quarters of a pound (0.35 kg), and features a fixed barrel design that eliminates play, lightweight architecture, and improved modular features like additional rails and a modular grenade unit that attaches in front of the saber style trigger guard. The standard Australian Defence Force EF88 rifle comes equipped with a 20″ long barrel for higher muzzle velocity, the same length as the previous F88.
The F90 export version of the EF88 is reportedly undergoing the process of approval for importation into the United States. The F90MBR, a variant of the F90 that uses AR-15 magazines, and has ergonomics more friendly to US shooters, is currently being promoted internationally, but it seems likely that it will eventually make it to the US market, as well.