By 3 News online staff
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will have a replacement for the Steyr rifle in their sights after 20 years of service.
The Government has given approval for the NZDF to look for another weapon, which is expected to be introduced into service by 2016/17.
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman says the Steyr has seen "considerable operational use" and is near the end of its lifespan.
He says weapon technology has advanced significantly since the weapon was first bought for the NZDF 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," he says.
Personnel need a rifle which can be used in a variety of situations, which was made clear during operations in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste, Dr Coleman says.
Replacing the Steyr is part of a larger programme of replacing weapons, including new light machine guns, combat guns and designated marksman rifles as well as possibly sniper rifles and grenade launchers.
A tender process will be opened to buy an off-the-shelf rifle to replace the Steyr, with up to 8800 rifles and associated accessories.
The NZDF will be trialling short-listed weapons and a recommendation will be made to Cabinet early next year.
source: newshub archive