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UPDATED: Australia implements new anti-ship missile capability

Defence has awarded Rheinmetall Defence Australia signed a contract to build Multi-Ammunition Soft-Kill System (MASS), to equip its ANZAC-class frigates and HOBART-class destroyers with anti-ship missile defences. The MASS system provides an electromagnetic decoy to protect ships from sensor-guided missiles. Defence will commit $180 million over the next 5 years to the project.

“In crude terms, this is about installing launchers to deploy chaff, aluminium foil metal foil, smoke and flares to protect our ships should they come under missile attack,” said Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy at Rheinmetall Australia’s Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Redbank, near Brisbane.

The MASS will not replace the Nulka anti-missile decoy that currently equips ships of the RAN, US Navy and Royal Canadian Navy – the MASS and Nulka will be complementary.

“We’re hoping to deploy very soon,” Conroy said. “One of the strengths of this system is that it’s already in service in other countries. And in fact, we did trials with the Royal New Zealand Navy very recently, and it’s in the Canadian Navy as well. So we’re confident we can get this up as soon as possible in the next couple of years.”

The fully computerized and trainable MASS countermeasure system protects against modern sensor- and laser-guided missiles, according to Rheinmetall. It can be installed on ships of all types and be integrated into existing command and combat management systems. The company’s new MASS_ISS features built-in sensors for detecting radar and laser threats. Programmable and multispectral, the system’s programmable ammunition and trainable launcher provides protection in all relevant wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, the company says.”

Manufacturing will begin soon, said Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s managing director, Nathan Poyner: “We’ll start the works on the on the site within the next weeks here, and then we’ll get the first equipment in. And then we’ll be starting to see energising about supply chain in the early part of next year.”

The Redbank factory will also supply the regional export market, he confirmed: “So we can have ability to locally build and then export from here, as the Minister just said. We’re working very hard on a Boxer [wheeled CRV] order exactly for that [reason]. And that’s why we’ve invested all the technology in the office and the workforce that you can see here in the facility we’re standing in. As you can see, we’re already manufacturing the armoured vehicle program here in Land 400 Ph2 and Land 121. And this will be a great addition to the workforce and manufacturing plant.”

The five-year contract will focus on building the capability the MILVEHCOE in Redbank, creating up to 45 new local jobs through supply and support chains, says Defence. This is in addition to over 600 local jobs currently being supported at the facility.

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