A Queensland small arms supplier has been selected as the prime vendor to supply rifles and weapon systems to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
Brisbane-based NIOA will supply the NZDF with recoil operated semi-automatic Barrett M107A1's and MRAD weapon systems, a selection the Australian company said strengthens its existing relationship with the NZDF.
In May 2015, NIOA supported a ‘Battle Lab’ in New Zealand to demonstrate the capability of the .50 BMG Barrett M107A1 anti-materiel rifle. In 2017, NIOA took part in an open tender to replace NZDF’s existing sniper rifles with a new .338 Lapua Magnum weapon system and, after an extensive evaluation period, Barrett’s Multi Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) rifle was selected.
The Queensland company has worked closely with several international companies – including Barrett, Nightforce, Leupold, Kestre, Cruxford, B&T Industries, Armageddon Gear, Accuracy 1st, TAB Gear, IEA Optics and Bower Group – to provide two fully integrated weapon systems to the NZDF, including the ballistic computer BC-01. NZDF have adopted the BC-01 that is fitted to the Nightforce ATACR optic on the anti-material weapon system.
NIOA said the BC-01 is more than just a ballistic computer, it can have the actual trajectory of a projectile as measured by doppler radar entered into the computer, which assists in first round hits at extended ranges.
NZDF Major George Tweedy, the project manager for the sniper rifle and anti-materiel rifle, stated the MRAD did extremely well in 18 usability tests and was by far the easiest rifle to handle.
"Whilst all sniper rifles are inherently accurate, the ability to use the MRAD straight from the box was a major advantage for NZ snipers, with major considerations being easy to learn, easy to use and extreme accuracy," MAJ Tweedy said.
"Matched with the Nightforce ATACR using a TreMor 3 reticle and a Kestrel ballistic computer we were able to engage Fig 11 targets with a first round hit at 1,500 metres, and with accurate corrections by the spotter consistently engage at ranges beyond this.
"The .50 BMG M107A1 anti-materiel rifle was also extremely easy to learn and use straight from the box, and matched with the same Nightforce ATACR sight and fitted with a BC-01 ballistic computer, it greatly reduced the engagement times for multiple targets at varying ranges. Utilising a tripod system made specifically for the M107A1, we were also able to use the weapon in every firing position from prone, kneeling, sitting and standing which is some feat for a weapon the weighs in at just over 17 kilograms fully loaded."
NIOA added it will continue to work closely with the NZDF and its international partners to deliver the latest anti-materiel and sniper capabilities to the NZDF in early 2018. Once these weapon systems are introduced into service with the NZDF, NIOA will support both weapon systems through their life of type.