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Australia buying Tomahawk missiles for air warfare destroyers

Tomahawk live fire
US Navy file photo of a Tomahawk cruise missile in flight

After the shock announcement that it would walk away from the purchase of French submarines and instead build nuclear-powered submarines together with the US and UK, Australia announced the purchase of new missile systems for its armed forces.

More specifically, the country’s prime minister said the Australian defense ministry would buy Tomahawk cruise missiles for the navy. They will be fielded on the brand new Hobart-class air warfare destroyers, giving them the ability to strike land targets at greater distances, with better precision.

Tomahawk will provide a much needed capability for the Royal Australian Navy, which basically has no land strike capability beyond guns.

The announcement on the new missile procurement follows a string of other high-profile initiatives, such as the cooperation on the US Army’s Precision Strike Missile program, purchase of Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (Extended Range) (LRASM) for the F/A-18F Super Hornets, as well as the establishment of a sovereign guided weapons manufacturing enterprise.

What is more, the Australian PM announced the country would buy Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (Extended Range) for F/A-18 A/B Hornets and in future, F-35A Lightning II aircraft. Australia already uses the JASSM, but JASSM-ER will allow RAAF fighters to hit targets at a range of 900km.

The missile system purchase announcement is part of the launch of the AUKUS trilateral security partnership, whose first initiative will be Australia’s procurement of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines. The effort will see the US and UK share their nuclear-powered propulsion know-how to enable Australia to build the boats in Adelaide.

With this agreement, Australia walked away from the A90 billion deal with France after five years of work. In 2016, Australia and France signed a deal for the delivery of 12 conventionally-powered submarine based on Naval Group’s Barracuda design.

Medium range ground based air defense system RFP

In another defense related announcement on September 16, Australian defense minister Peter Dutton said the department was seeking prospective market options for the potential acquisition of a new air defense system.

“The creation of the national guided weapons enterprise is a significant step and will ensure defense’s enduring ability to effectively deter and defeat threats against our national interests,” minister Dutton said.

“To complement the enterprise, the government is also investing in a new integrated air and missile defense capability that will further improve the survivability of our deployed forces.”

“The request for proposal will improve defense’s understanding of the capability and likely availability and timelines of current and potential future systems that can meet Australia’s requirements,” defense industry minister Melissa Price added.

“We are also seeking to understand how Australian industry can leverage the sovereign guided weapons enterprise in their proposals to harness existing or emerging local munitions production capabilities.”