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ADF to invest in new guided weapons

Air Vice-Marshall Gerald van Leeuwen from GWEO, Ben Walter CEO of Varley Rafael Australia, and Golan Ben-Giat, managing Doirector of Rafael Australia, with a Spike 2 missile at the contract signing ceremony; and (top) Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Mobile Fires (LRMF) which exceeds the 500km range of the PrSM missile fired from the HiMARS launch. Images: Defence and Lockheed Martin.

The Australian Government is investing more than $1.7 billion in three new classes of weapon for the ADF, and a further $1.6 billion in HiMARS launchers. Missiles, including the PrSM hypersonic weapons to be launched from the HiMARS system, will be manufactured in Australia by Australia’s Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) Enterprise.

“We are buying these weapons now to deliver capability quickly – but we are also considering options to manufacture missiles domestically because of the importance of building sovereign Australian defence manufacturing capabilities,” said Minister for defence Industry Pat Conroy

To deploy enhanced strike capabilities and hold an adversary at risk at longer ranges, the ADF will acquire more than 200 BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States for the RAN’s Hobart-class DDG, for approximately $1.3 billion.

With a range of 1,500 kilometres, the Tomahawk is a world-class long-range strike capability. Australia will be only one of three nations to have them, along with the United States and the United Kingdom.

In addition, the Government has approved the acquisition of more than 60 AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missiles from the United States for $431 million.

These air to ground missiles are designed to target enemy radar systems. They will be operated on the RAAF’s EA-18G Growler and F/A-18F Super Hornet aircrafts and, in future, on the F-35A Lightning II fighter jets.

The Australian Army’s Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles will also be armed with Spike Long-Range 2 anti-tank guided missiles. This will provide soldiers with the capability to engage with enemy armour at a range of more than five kilometres.

Under a contract worth more than $50 million, Varley Rafael Australia is expected to deliver the first Spike missile early next year. The Varley Group will present options to Government for domestic manufacturing.

The Australian Government will also more than double the number of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers being acquired for the ADF. It will invest $1.6 billion to expand and accelerate this acquisition, bringing the total number of HIMARS to 42.

The land-based, long-range, surface-to-surface HIMARS and associated munitions and support systems will equip the Australian Army. The project is also scoped to procure the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM), which is expected to have a maximum range beyond 500km.

To support the accelerated acquisition of a long-range strike capability, Defence is developing detailed plans for a Guided Weapons Production Capability (GWPC) to manufacture HIMARS-compatible missiles in Australia from 2025.

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