MKU & Thales Team Up for Indian CQB Rifle

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
Australian EF88 from Thales

MKU Ltd. and Thales have announced that they will work together to enter India’s Close Quarter Battle Rifle trials. The announcement came on the 10th April, at Defexpo 2018, as the two companies signed two memorandums of understanding (MoU) for strategic co-operation.

The agreement covers the development of a carbine version of the F90, known as the F90CQB, and optronic devices to be mounted on the rifle for entry into India’s Rifle Program. The F90 is the export version of Australia’s EF88, developed by the Thales-owned Lithgow Small Arms Factory. The Kanpur-based MKU Ltd. specialises in producing defence equipment including helmets, ballistic vests, night vision optics and binoculars. The co-operation aims to enhance the future night fighting capabilities of the Indian Army.

The products from the initiative will be offered with the understanding that if adopted they will be produced under the Indian government’s ‘Made in India’ initiative.

F90 and Under-barrel Grenade Launcher (Thales)

MKU’s managing Director, Neeraj Gupta, said in a press release that his company is “pleased to sign the strategic co-operation MoUs with Thales. This partnership will not only focus on meeting the requirements of our forces in India, but will also look at exporting the products to other parts of the world.”

MKU Ltd. Optic (Thales)

Alex Cresswell, Senior Executive Vice-President for Land and Air Systems at Thales said:

We are very pleased to work in close collaboration with MKU for the development of weapons and optronic devices to address specific needs of the Indian and international markets. This co-development partnership reaffirms our commitment to India and is the result of our ambition to support soldiers on operations.

If the submission from the two companies is successful, Thales will co-operate with MKU to enable the Indian company to set up a manufacturing plant in India to produce the F90CQB.


Thales Press Release regarding the new deal, retrieved 12/04/18, from source

MKU & Thales jointly Develop optronic devices, close-quarter battle rifles for Indian Army, ANI, retrieved 10/04/18, from source

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: & Overt Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at:

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