Page 94 - Australian Defence Magazine September 2018
P. 94

Reserve units, along with the RAAF and Navy. Tranche three will equip the 1st Brigade in Darwin and Army training in- stitutions, most notably the Army Recruit Training Centre and the Royal Military College-Duntroon. Tranche four will equip remaining units and provide repair and attrition stocks. The project will reach final operating capability in 2022.
So, having adopted an updated version of a proven capability, is the Army now looking at replacing the EF-88 in favour of something new but as yet undecided? The answer is probably not in the short term, but the ADF will keep looking at the de- velopment of the threats small arms capa- bility to ensure that a capability advantage is maintained for the close combatant
LTCOL Gower stated that both Army and CASG are now evaluating the per- formance of existing weapons systems to establish a baseline to ensure a systems of systems approach is taken to provide a ca- pability advantage and lethality.
“We are going through a process to iden- tify and evaluate what effects we want to be able to generate on the battlefield,” he said. “We are weapons agnostic to some degree. One option may be that we will look at the current weapons systems we have and decide that some weapons are performing pretty well and maybe look at a few small enhancements or the next ver- sion of that weapon.”
The original F-88’s low-powered op- tical sight was regarded as a significant improvement over the iron sights of its
predecessor. The current core optic, the Raytheon ELCAN Specter DR, is better still – it was even chosen by the US Special Operations Command.
The Soldier Combat Systems Program has highlighted that the sights provide a real advantage, substantially increasing effective range. Retailing for more than $2,000 in the US, these precision items
cost more than the weapon to
which they attach.
Optics have advanced significantly in the last couple of decades, with potential to improve even further. The ideal would be a single lightweight unit incorporating optical and thermal sights, an image in- tensifier, laser rangefinder and datalink into the Army battle management system.
While the EF-88 is early in its life, that can’t be said for the issue handgun, the venerable Browning 9mm self-loading pis- tol, a design dating from 1935 and which entered Australian service in the 1960s. The current Australian variant, not that different to the original, dates from 1988.
But production ended earlier this year and the Original Equipment Manufac- turer, FN Herstal of Belgium, will cease providing ongoing support. So Australia will need a replacement and there’s plenty to choose from.
Sergeant Michael Lindeblad (left), scans for enemy while Private Mitchell Sheeran fires the 84mm Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle during Exercise Hamel 2018.
Last year the US Army chose a new hand- gun, the SIG P320, to replace the Beretta M9, itself selected in 1985 to replace the Colt 1911. The US Army is on its third handgun in the period the Browning has remained in Australian service. So why not piggy-back on the US, which on one report was paying around US$200 per new handgun?
LTCOL Gower confirmed that the Sol- dier Combat System Program is certainly examining what our allies are doing but that isn’t a determining factor.
“We have to go through our own pro- cesses to make sure that our needs, which may be different to those of the US or oth- ers, are met first and foremost,” he said.
This early in Land 159 and Land 4108, no-one is yet nominating any particular capabilities as preferred kit. Army is in the requirements setting phase of the Capa- bility Life Cycle – this involves capturing ADF combatant needs and articulating them as battlefield effects.
LTCOL Cocksedge CASG spokesman re-emphasised that this wasn’t just about procuring weapons.
“We are looking at all the ancillary pieces that contribute to realising the full capability advantage. We are also aiming to ensure fully optimised systems that en- able full integration of platforms, train- ing, better ammunition, new ammunition types, simulation, and targets that better replicate battlefield actors,” he said. “All of these things are really important. We have learned over the last 10 years or so that we have to take a holistic approach to replac- ing these capabilities and ensuring that they are fully integrated.”
Loitering munition
Loitering munitions would be a new capa- bility, though the concept has been around for decades. Most fielded systems such as the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Ha-
88 | September 2018 |
“Rather than trying to think
in traditional terms of pure projects, we are looking at and integrated and optimised system of systems of capabilities for the soldiers.”

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