Over the last few month the New Zealand Army has begun fielding its new standard issue infantry rifle, the LMT MARS-L. The MARS-L is replacing the F88 Austeyr which has been in service since 1988.
The decision was made to replace the Stey AUG-based F88 in 2015, following performance concerns reported during operations in Afghanistan. The MARS-L will eventually replace the F88 in all branches of the New Zealand Defence Forces.
The 2nd/4th Battalion of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, the New Zealand Defence Force’s only infantry regiment – made up of regular and reserve battalions, are the latest troops to receive the new rifle. The New Zealand Army’s facebook page shared some photos of troops training with the new rifles for the first time on the West Melton Rifle Range.
The MARS-L isn’t the first LMT rifle New Zealand have adopted, back in 2011 the also adopted the LMT 308 MWS as a designated marksman’s rifle.
The rifle is designated the Modular Assault Rifle System – Light or MARS-L by the New Zealand Army, but sold as the Modular Ambidextrous Rifle System by LMT on the civilian market. It was adopted in two barrel lengths, 18 and 16 inch, with an empty weight of 3.3 kg or 7.3 lbs. It has ambidextrous controls and charging handle, a flared magazine well and uses a mid-length DI gas system. It is shipped with back-up iron sights but is most frequently seen mounted w and is fitted as standard with a folding front grip and a barrel specially adapted to fix a bayonet. The New Zealand government ordered a total 9,000 rifles with the first being issued to troops of the 1st Battalion of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment in June 2017.