Thales and MKU have signed MoU to produce F90 assault rifle in India
- DefExpo 2018 India News Show Daily
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Indian Company MKU Limited and Thales from France have signed two MoUs for strategic co-operation in the development and production of optronic devices and F90 close quarter battle (CQB) rifle for soldiers. The new-generation F90 is an evolution of the Austeyr F88 assault rifle, which is operational in more than 30 countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
Thales Improved F90 Modular Bullpup Rifle (Picture source Thales)
The optronic devices will be co-developed by Thales and MKU and both the optronic devices and F90 rifles will be manufactured in India at MKU’s facilities in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. These products will be offered to the Indian army and homeland security forces under the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government.
On the occasion, Mr. Neeraj Gupta, MD of MKU said, “MKU is pleased to sign the strategic co-operation MoUs with Thales. This partnership will not only focus on meeting the requirements of our forces in India, but will also look at exporting the products to other parts of the world.”
Alex Cresswell, Senior Executive Vice-President for Land & Air Systems at Thales said, "We are very pleased to work in close collaboration with MKU for the development of weapons and optronic devices to address specific needs of the Indian and international markets. This co-development partnership reaffirms our commitment to India and is the result of our ambition to support soldiers on operations."
The strategic co-operation for optronic devices between Thales and MKU is committed to enhancing the night fighting capabilities of the Indian Army and homeland security forces. It envisages manufacturing of optronics equipment including weapon sights, night vision goggles, handheld thermal imagers and thermal infrared sensor engine for soldier systems, and other image intensification and thermal imaging systems for soldiers and platforms respectively.
For weapons, the two companies plan to cooperate so that MKU could set-up an assembly and manufacturing plant in India for the carbine version of the F90 assault rifle, combat-proven and already in service with Australian Defence Forces. Light, balanced and accurate, the F90CQB (Close Quarter Battle) developed with MKU will be well suited to Indian conditions and requirements.
The F90 assault rifle has bullpup design and open architecture allow it to be configured for a wide range of mission profiles. The rifle has an overall length of 700 mm and a weight of 3.25 kg. It is equipped with a 407 mm-long fixed and lighter barrel. The barrel lengths of 3.39 kg F90M and 3.15 kg F90CQB variants are 508 mm and 360 mm respectively. The F90 is a gas-operated, selective fire weapon with a bullpup layout. It is chambered for the standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition.