New Zealand govt approves Steyr replacement programme
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has received government approval to acquire up to 8,800 new rifles to replace the in-service Steyr 5.56 mm weapon, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman announced on 17 June.
A competitive tender would be conducted to purchase an off-the-shelf replacement capable of being optimised for a range of situations, Coleman said in a statement. A recommendation would be made to the government early in 2015 and the new rifle was expected to be introduced into service by 2016-17.
Coleman said operational experience in Afghanistan and East Timor had highlighted the importance of effectively identifying and engaging targets in various settings.
According to a 2011 Ministry of Defence report, operations in Afghanistan had shown it was difficult to accurately identify adversaries with the Steyr, which was ineffective at ranges greater than 200 metres.
A request for information that closed in October 2013 said the Steyr replacement "will offer consistency in fire from close quarter situations to more deliberate fire at around 500 m by day and half this distance in low light conditions.
Coleman said future projects would consider replacements for the NZDF's in-service pistols, sniper rifles and grenade launchers. New light machine guns, combat shotguns and marksman rifles have already been introduced to service.