SIG Sauer Academy

Australian Defence Force Signs Up for Next Generation of Weapons

30 September 2022

The Federal Government has signed a multi-million dollar agreement with a Queensland company to start acquiring and supplying the next generation of small arms for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The contract is part of a $500 million plus commitment to provide Australia’s soldiers, sailors and aviators with enhanced lethality weapon systems.

Head Land Systems, Major General Andrew Bottrell today announced the awarding of the Lethality System Project (LAND 159) Tranche 1 contract to Queensland-based company NIOA, in the lead-up to the Land Forces 2022 Exposition in Brisbane.

Between now and the mid-2020s, NIOA will use a range of sub-contractors to supply new sniper rifles, pistols, shotguns, personal defence weapons, fighting knives, and an assault breaching system to the ADF, with many of the new weapons to be on display at Land Forces.

Major General Bottrell said the contract would include munitions and ancillary equipment including optical and laser systems, torches and suppressors for the new generation of small arms.

“Under the contract, NIOA will be the prime contractor, working with local and international suppliers and weapon manufacturers on the acquisition, integration, delivery and ongoing support of the new weapon systems from 2023.”

“This is a bold step into modern weaponry to quickly improve Australia’s defence preparedness.”

Major General Bottrell said early engagement with industry had proven very successful.

“NIOA has demonstrated a long?term commitment, private investment, and a focus on growing sovereign industrial capability to support Australia’s war fighters.”

“The collaboration between Defence and industry means we will acquire the best available weapon systems for our troops.”

Defence will seek to maximise Australian industry involvement throughout the life of the Lethality System Project, and ensure continuous engagement with industry partners.

New weapons systems to be acquired include:

• Australian manufacturer ZU Bladeworx’s Double-Edged Fighting Knife – selected as the basis of the ADF’s new Hand-to-Hand Fighting System. The black, double-edged fighting knife has a 100mm blade, is machined from a solid billet of A2 steel and features a non-slip handle and retention ring.

• The SIG Sauer P320 XCarry Pro – selected as the platform for the Sidearm Weapon System, which will replace the venerable Browning Mk3 pistol. It will be complemented with reflex sights, and a white light illuminator.

• The Benelli M3A1 – selected as the platform for the Combat Shotgun System. Operable in semi-automatic or pump-action mode, it is complemented with a red dot sight and white light illuminator.

• The SIG Sauer MCX, in .300 Blackout calibre – selected as the platform for the Personal Defence Weapon System, to provide dismounted combatants with a light, modular, and compact weapon system that can be rapidly optimised for specialised roles.

• The Accuracy International AX-SR – selected as the platform for the Long Range Sniper Capability. It will be introduced into ADF service as a multi-calibre system capable of delivering in .338 Lapua Magnum, .300 Norma Magnum and 7.62mm NATO calibres.

• The Sniper Surveillance Capability – selected to provide ADF snipers with a day and night capability utilising the Safran JIM Compact multispectral surveillance device and Steiner laser range-finding binoculars.

• The M107A1 rifle, manufactured by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Incorporated, – selected as the platform for the Anti-Material Sniper Capability. The M107A1 is a lighter, modernised and suppressed derivative of the in-service weapon, and is complemented with precision optics, night vision, and ranger-finding devices.

29 Responses to “Australian Defence Force Signs Up for Next Generation of Weapons”

  1. 4595 says:

    Maybe a couple of first in this, first widespread adoption of a red dot sight on a handgun and .300 blackout by a conventional military.

  2. reader says:

    Benelli M3 instead of M4, what is the reasoning behind this?

    • James says:

      I would imagine Less-Lethal rounds, most require manual operation. The way that’s set up, it’s a multipurpose tool as much as a weapon ,similar to the MCS and Mossberg kits.

  3. Trevor Stone says:

    That shoulder against the shotgun stock looks like it has some pain in its future.

  4. Ray Forest says:

    My first thought is that this is the future of any country than bans guns. Any small arms industry you will dry up until you can’t produce your own arms. Australia is increasingly dependent on foreign weapons and military equipment. I feel like not a day goes by here where you are. It reporting that they have adopted an armored vehicle or prime mover manufactured in Europe. I can’t imagine being so isolated geographically and so dependent on others for my defense. Gone are the days of BMC and Lithgow. I realize the better value in buying a program someone else developed but they seem to get farther out on the limb every year. The importance of the “fighting knife” also makes me chuckle. So many knife kills in modern combat going on and what not. You know those blades are going to be locked in a trunk in an arms room meanwhile given the nature of the training areas of Australia, most soldiers are still going to be carrying a personally bought bush knife that will get 100x the use of that double bladed dagger.

    • FormerDirtDart says:

      Except of course that they are actually looking at developing a general issue rifle for their forces
      https://www.thalesgroup.com/sites/default/files/database/document/2021-11/defence-technology-review-issue-81-nov-2021-thales-developing-new-6-8mm-close-combat-weapon.pdf
      But by all means, feel free to go on bloviating about procuring niche weapons

      • z0phi3l says:

        Just proves his point, there is currently no native weapons manufacturing infrastructure in Australia, whatever they do will require they import not just machining but also skilled workforce, so what are the odds it’s just outsourced because it’s cheaper?
        Also any local firearms manufacturing will always be not profitable and always at the whim of politicians, no sane business person would want to invest in those conditions

        • Linz says:

          “…there is currently no native weapons manufacturing infrastructure in Australia…”

          Not quite.

          There is, of course, Thales/ADI.

          Additionally, post 1996, about 5 manufacturer of AR15 variants have sprung up.

          Two of those at least have good potential to do a DIMACO.

          There are a couple of defence manufacturers who don’t make firearms but could similarly ‘blossom’

          • Yawnz says:

            We can talk about the future all we want, but that doesn’t refute the point. Civilian ownership drives profitability of private arms ventures.

        • FormerDirtDart says:

          “… there is currently no native weapons manufacturing infrastructure in Australia …”
          They just celebrated 110 years of small arms manufacturing at Lithgow (now under under Thales), so that would be shocking news to those folks
          https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/australia/news/lithgow-arms-celebrates-110-years

      • Yawnz says:

        Oh man, they’re “looking at developing”. That totally means that they aren’t wholly dependent on foreign suppliers in any way, right?

        Maybe try finding a stronger argument.

        • FormerDirtDart says:

          I don’t need a stringer argument. They have been manufacturing small arms at Lithgow for the Australian military, and have never stopped, for over a century.

    • Adam says:

      Ray, you are full of complaints and gloom, yet do not provide solutions nor drive change for sovereign capability, Australia, in many cases does not have the skill sets, capability or capacity to design and manufacture independently.

      This is why it is vital that companies like Nioa are challenging the status quo, bringing in partners and providers and creating licensing opportunities, you have neglected to mention that Nioa has built with Rheinmetall, 155mm production capability in Northern Queensland and Medium Calibre production in Victoria to name two positive activities for production. Some things take time, in addition, small arms have such a small turnover, and profits are driven from one time programmes, the true profits can be driven from munition and accessories, service and refit, after sales etc… and guess what, profit drives sustainable business’ like Nioa, what Robert Nioa is doing for Australia is very good, quit the grumbling or get involved in the change… a Qld company is prime… not an American, European etc… be happy for the win.

  5. Vet says:

    Any idea if they also selected an AR10 type CSASS rifle?

    Also, interesting choice to select 300NM but then sticking with 338LM. They could have selected 338NM, same as with the MK22, which largely replaces the need for M107A1.

  6. Doe says:

    Apparently that knife costs over 700$ retail. Hopefully they got a bulk deal like how the M17 costs the US Army just 180$ each.

    • Richard says:

      Not to mention it’s uncanny similarity to the inventor of the SOCP Greg Thompson made by Benchmade (patent USD697577S1).
      Surprising NIOA and the ADF would let copyright infringement happen on their watch!
      http://www.ussocp.com/wp-content/uploads/socp-knife.pdf

    • Ray forest says:

      99/100 troops would have asked for something as simple as better boots than a non utility knife. 90/100 would have been happier with 5 pairs of great socks. But by all means a $700 double edged blade that short that can’t be batoned or used for both stabbing and field tasks.

      • Richard says:

        Yeah, dunno.
        Just surprising the legal eagles at NIOA didn’t research or consider the impactions of copyright infringement.
        Afterall the SOCP, Greg Thompson and Benchmade are all pretty well known. Maybe its kosher and Greg/Benchmade licensed their design to ZU???

    • frank says:

      Sounds like a bargain, until one notes you could have gotten any US issue bayonet from WWI to Viet Man for 25 or 30 dollars not so long ago.

  7. Iggy says:

    All of this is the result of ADF attempting a revised tender process to get out of the notoriously uncompetitive process they used before. Turned into a complete shitshow, with the silly and unintgrated ‘system’ they ended up with.
    ADF has made very few good decisions for decades now in this space, and looks like nothing has changed.
    Oh and Thales was a contender, didn’t get it. Mustn’t have kissed the right asses.

  8. Richard says:

    Is that knife a copy of Greg Thompsons SOCP made by Benchmade and Spartan Blades USA! I thought there was a worldwide patent of the original design.
    Probably not publicity the ADF and NIOA need, should have done their homework, a little disappointing.

    • Joe_K says:

      Doubt it. Just because it’s a double edged blade demonstrated as being worn/carried on a plate carrier does not a patent infringement make.

  9. James says:

    The guns kinda make sense but the knife?!!! What were they thinking?
    SOCP all day for the win.
    It’ll be amazing if Benchmade or Spartan don’t sue.
    It’s a shame Aussie knife makers couldn’t come up with a design of their own. Sad day for the knife industry IMO.

  10. Mark says:

    I have read many comments about the knife. As to the patent issues I have no knowledge in that area and will not comment.

    As to employment it appears that some commentors believe that it is a replacement for the Bayonet/field knife/big pokey thing.

    It’s not.

    It’s part of the Army Combative Program (Aust Army hand to hand) as a knife for when physically in contact with the enemy. They are usually placed on the chest centrally with a bias to opposite side of either a pistol or Bayonet (slight left//right) of center. If you can’t get to the big knife/pistol you go for the little one. For those not thinking 10cm is sufficent, the drill is to aim for the neck/clavical.

  11. Adam says:

    What an absolute travesty.
    No sovereign content except an embarrassing USA knife copy.
    Can’t wait to see the SIG XM5 Rifle and XM250 Automatic Rifle dominate the next cycle of evaluations.
    USA Arms keep peace!
    Cheerio.
    Adam