The Australian government announced it has approved the accelerated acquisition of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and the Naval Strike Missiles at a total cost of A$3.5 billion.
While the JASSM-ER purchase for the Royal Australian Air Force was revealed earlier, this is the first time Australia is confirming the procurement of NSM for the Royal Australian Navy’s surface fleet.
In addition to the missile purchases, Australia also said it would buy maritime mines to secure Australia’s ports and maritime approaches.
“With Australia’s strategic environment becoming more complex and challenging, our ADF must be able to hold potential adversary forces and infrastructure at risk from a greater distance,” Australian defense minister Peter Dutton said.
“These world-class strike weapon systems will equip our forces to better protect Australia’s maritime approaches and when necessary, contribute to coalition operations in our region.”
“The JASSM-ER will enable the FA-18F Super Hornet, and in future the F-35A Lightning II, to engage targets at a range of 900km.”
Acquisition of the Kongsberg NSM to replace the Harpoon anti-ship missile in the Anzac-class frigates and Hobart-class destroyers provides an enhancement to Australia’s maritime strike capability – more than doubling the current maritime strike range of its frigates and destroyers.
Commencing in 2024, Anzac-class frigates and Hobart-class destroyers will have the NSM capability installed.
In September last year, Australia also revealed it would be buying Tomahawk cruise missiles for the air warfare destroyers, giving them the ability to strike land targets at greater distances, with better precision.
“The combination of NSM and previously announced Tomahawks is the best mix of capability to meet Australia’s needs and is proven in service with our key alliance partner, the United States,” the government said.
Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise partners chosen
In another major announcement related to Australia’s guided-missile capabilities, the government said it has chosen Raytheon Australia and Lockheed Martin Australia as strategic partners in delivering an A$1 billion Sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise.
Defense minister Dutton said three Australian-based companies – the Australian Missile Corporation, the Sovereign Missile Alliance and Aurecon Advisory – would support prime contractors as sovereign industry partners of the Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise.
“Australia’s strategic environment is becoming more complex and challenging, the Indo-Pacific now sits at the epicenter of global strategic competition,” minister Dutton said.
“I am pleased to announce Raytheon Australia and Lockheed Martin Australia have been selected as initial industry partners of the Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise.
“These two companies, along with their US-based parent companies, are the largest suppliers of guided weapons to defense.
“We will be working with them to rapidly increase our ability to maintain and manufacture guided weapons and their components in Australia.
The announcement comes as minister Dutton officially opened a new $96 million maintenance facility for Navy guided weapons in at Orchard Hills in Western Sydney.
“The facility is a world first for its inherent safety and functionality, and will include advanced software to optimize weapons maintenance,” minister Dutton said