Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman says the Government has given approval for the NZDF to seek a replacement for the Steyr rifle.
“It is important NZDF personnel are well equipped and have effective modern rifles suited to today’s operational environment,” says Dr Coleman.
“The Steyr rifle has served the NZDF well for over 20 years and it has seen considerable operational use, but it is now reaching the end of its lifespan. Weapon technology has advanced considerably since the NZDF purchased the Steyr rifle in 1987.
“Modern rifles can be adapted to individual needs, maximising the effectiveness of the weapon. They can be fitted with a range of advanced day and night sights, and other specialised equipment. They can also be adjusted to suit different body sizes, and for the wearing of personal kit.
“NZDF personnel need a rifle that can be optimised for a range of situations. Operational experience in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste highlighted the importance of effectively identifying and engaging targets in various settings.
“The Steyr replacement is part of a wider personal weapons replacement programme. New light machine guns, combat shotguns and designated marksman rifles have been introduced to service. Future projects are also planned to look at the in-service pistol, sniper rifles, and grenade launchers.”
The Government has given approval for the Ministry of Defence to conduct a competitive tender process to purchase an ‘off the shelf’ rifle to replace the Steyr rifle with a new fleet of up to 8,800 rifles and associated accessories. The NZDF will trial short-listed weapons against the NZDF user requirements and a recommendation will be made to Cabinet early next year. The new rifle is expected to be introduced into service by 2016-17.