WELLINGTON, New Zealand, June 18 (UPI) -- New Zealand's military is seeking a new firearm to replace the Steyr rifle used by its troops for more than 20 years.
The IW Steyr is a 5.56 mm assault rifle with automatic and semi-automatic capability. It has an optical 1.5x magnification sight.
The search for a new rifle was announced by New Zealand Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman.
"It is important NZDF personnel are well equipped and have effective modern rifles suited to today's operational environment," he said.
"The Steyr rifle has served the NZDF well for over 20 years and it has seen considerable operational use, but it is now reaching the end of its lifespan. Weapon technology has advanced considerably since the NZDF purchased the Steyr rifle in 1987.
"Modern rifles can be adapted to individual needs, maximizing the effectiveness of the weapon," he said. "They can be fitted with a range of advanced day and night sights, and other specialized equipment. NZDF personnel need a rifle that can be optimized for a range of situations. "
Replacement of Steyr rifles is part of a wider replacement program in which new light machine guns have been introduced into service. New pistols, sniper rifles, and grenade launchers are also planned for the future.
The Ministry of Defense said acquisition of as many as 8,000 new rifles and accessories will come through a competitive tender process and are expected to enter service in the 2016-2017 time period.