The Australian Department of Defence has announced that under its Lethality System Project LAND 159 project a raft of new small arms have been selected for the Australian Defence Force’s dismounted combatants. The news was announced at the end of last month with Head Land Systems, Major General Andrew Bottrell announcing the selections and saying that “this is a bold step into modern weaponry to quickly improve Australia’s defence preparedness.” Bottrell said early engagement with the industry had proven very successful.
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The new weapon systems will be provided through Australia-based primary contractor NIOA. NIOA will use a range of sub-contractors to supply new sniper rifles, pistols, shotguns, personal defense weapons and fighting knives.
The big news is that the venerable Browning HiPower, known as the Self-Loading Pistol 9mm Mk3 in Australian service, will be replaced by the SIG Sauer P320 XCarry Pro. The XCarry Pro was selected as the platform for the Sidearm Weapon System and will be complemented with reflex sights, and a white light illuminator. The XCarry was previously selected by the Danish military back in the summer of 2018.
The optic is not specifically named in the Defence Department’s announcement but from the officially released photographs, it appears it will be a SIG Optics Romeo 2. It appears that the Australian Defence Force will become the first major conventional army to field red dot sights on their fleet of sidearms. The light will likely be SIG’s 580 lumens and 13,000 candela FOXTROT2.
The P320 XCarry Pro isn’t the only weapon from SIG Sauer that Australia has selected through LAND 159. The SIG Sauer MCX, in .300 Blackout calibre has also been selected as the Australian Defence Force’s new Personal Defence Weapon System. It’ll be mounted with a Romeo 4T and Juliet 4 magnifier. It’ll provide “dismounted combatants with a light, modular, and compact weapon system that can be rapidly optimised for specialised roles.” The SIG Sauer weapons will be delivered by Aquaterro, SIG’s representative in Australia.
The Benelli M3A1 has been selected as the platform for the Combat Shotgun System requirement. The Australian Department of Defence’s announcement said “operable in semi-automatic or pump-action mode, it is complemented with a red dot sight and white light illuminator.”
A pair of new long-range weapon systems have also been selected. The Accuracy International AX-SR – selected as the platform for the Long Range Sniper Capability while the M107A1 rifle, manufactured by Barrett Firearms Anti-Material Sniper Capability requirement.
The value of the contract awarded to NIOA for Lethality Systems project LAND 159 Tranche 1 was not revealed but it comes as part of a broader $500 million plus commitment to provide Australia’s military with new enhanced lethality weapon systems. NIOA’s CEO Robert Noia said in a statement that “the battlefield capability increase that these next-generation weapons provide is a game-changer for our warfighters. NIOA is proud of its role in this project. Protecting our national security means teamwork at every level – Government, Defence and industry.”
Following on from this first wave of weapon system selection the Australian Defence Force’s Lethality System Program Office will be selecting new ‘Close Combatant Assault Rifle, Machine Guns, Direct Fire Support Weapons and Grenades’ as part of Tranche 2 expected in 2024/25 and in 2026/27 tranche 3 will see enhanced munitions and emergent weapon systems explored.
H/T- Gregory Knowles.