Australia has begun revamping the small arms and military systems of its ground forces. The Australian military had been using a number of weapons for decades with few to no major upgrades. Its main assault rifle, the F88 Austeyr, a licensed Steyr AUG, has been kept current, but the Australian military’s arsenal has been lacking. So it adopted the Lethality System Project which saw it updating its supplementary arms, including its handguns, sniper rifles, and shotguns, and adopting a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW).
An additional focus has been placed on optics, lasers, and lights. The program has a budget of 500 million Australian dollars (324 million USD) and is planned to be completed by the middle of the decade.
The Australian government recently announced the adoption of several new weapons as part of the Lethality System Project, and it seems to be moving ahead of schedule.
Let’s examine the four new weapons which will join the ranks of the F88 Austeyr rifle.
A new anti-material rifle: The M107A1
The Australian military currently fields the Barrett M82, which is no longer produced by Barrett, as its semi-auto antimaterial rifle. Under the Lethality System Project, it is moving to the M107A1 a modernized variant of the M82 that still fires the mighty powerful .50 BMG round.
The M107A1 has a monolithic Picatinny rail that allows the attachment of various optics and accessories, including day and night optics and range finders. It also uses spiked feet bipods, an attachable monopod, and reworded muzzle device that is compatible with suppressors.
The M107A1 offers modern range and capability with a more modern and easily accessorized platform. It offers armor and hard barrier penetration, as well as Explosive Ordnance Disposal capability for long-range detonation or disassembly of explosives.
SIG MCX PDW .300 Blackout
The Lethality System Project also calls for a personal defense weapon. A PDW is a weapon shorter than any rifle, roughly the same size as an SMG, and fires a round that is considerably more powerful than a handgun’s. The Australian military chose the MCX in 300 Blackout for its PDW; the weapon will likely be in a Rattle configuration.
The MCX is an ultra-short firearm that fires a round designed for extremely short barrels. SOCOM recently adopted the MCX for a similar role. The SIG Sauer MCX offers barrels as short as 5.5 inches, a reliable short-stroke gas piston system, and options for folding and collapsing stocks.
The .300 Blackout can use both super and subsonic loads making the MCX very versatile, as well as easy to suppress, and quite quiet. The MCX seems to be dominating the market for PDWs and continues to be a favorite of the special operations community.
A top-of-the-line SIG P320 9mm
The Australian military will also adopt the P320, marking another win for SIG. The Australians were previously using the Browning Hi-Power which is a great gun, but a bit outdated by today’s standards. The United States has also adopted the P320 as the M17 and M18 series, and the weapon is becoming a duty pistol across the world. It’s made in numerous configurations, and the Australians are adopting the XCarry Pro Model.
The XCarry model uses a compact slide on top of a full-sized frame. This reduces the overall size while still providing an easy-to-handle handgun with a modern magazine capacity. The Hi-Power holds only 13 rounds, but the XCarry can carry anywhere from 17 to 21.
This is an optics-ready design, and as part of the Lethality System Project, the pistol will come equipped with the new SIG Sauer Romeo2 red dot and the FOXTROT2 white light. This is one of the most modern handguns on the market and utilizes advanced accessories to make it a very versatile weapon.
The Benelli M3A1 shotgun
The latest announced addition to the Lethality System Project is the Benelli M3A1 combat shotgun, which will replace the aging Remington 870s sitting in Australian arsenals. The Benelli M3 provides a versatile shotgun option.
Shotguns are niche but very capable weapons. What makes the M3A1 versatile is its combination action which converts it between pump and a semi-auto.
This allows the gun to run combative buckshot and slug loads reliably and easily in semi-auto. With the roll of a ring, it converts to pump action. As a pump action, the shotgunner can utilize breaching loads as well as less lethal loads. The M3A1 model uses an extended charging handle, bolt release, collapsing stock, and muzzle device.
To round out the Benelli, the Lethal System project calls for attaching a red dot sight and a white light. The red dot appears to be a Leupold Deltapoint Pro, but that is unconfirmed. All in all, it looks to be a very capable shotgun that will work in a variety of roles.
The Lethal System Project
The Australian military’s plan to upgrade its small arms has so far chosen very proven and dependable weapons from solid companies. I’ll even give them credit for embracing new small arms within a reasonable budget — at least as reasonable as military budgets go.
The Lethal System Project seems to be off to an excellent start and is moving along nicely with clear objectives for the modernization of Australia’s military force.