The US State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale of Standard Missile 6 Block I (SM-6) and Standard Missile 2 Block IIIC (SM-2 IIIC) missiles to Australia.
The potential purchase has an estimated value of $350 million and is destined to provide anti-air warfare capability for the Australian new Hunter-class frigates equipped with the latest AEGIS combat systems.
Australia’s Hunter-class program is currently in the prototyping phase with the start of construction for the first ship in the class slated for 2022. Australia’s frigates will be based on BAE Systems’ Type 26 Global Combat Ship design, which has also been selected by the UK Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy.
The frigates’ Aegis combat system will be supported by Saab interfaces and the CEA Technologies CEAFAR2 phased array radar. Armament will include a 32-cell Mark 41 Vertical Launch System, cannister-launched anti-ship missiles, in addition torpedo and decoy launchers and close-in weapon systems.
“The proposed sale of SM-6 and SM-2 IIIC missiles is currently included in Australia’s procurement roadmap and will improve their ability to operate alongside US and Allied naval forces against the full spectrum of naval threats,” the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said, adding that Australia would have no difficulty absorbing these defense services into its armed forces.
The principal contractor, should the deal be finalized, would be Raytheon Missiles and Defense (RMD).
The missile sale clearance follows Australia’s announcement it would invest A$1 billion to begin the early development of advanced guided weapons to enhance its maritime security.
SM-2 Block IIICs are to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s current Block IIIB missile, while the SM-6 Block I would provide an added anti-ship warfare capability, in addition to air defense.