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Defence signs NSM contract with Kongsberg, recommits to HIMARS

The Australian Department of Defence has signed a contract of undisclosed value with Norwegian firm Kongsberg to deliver the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), which will be employed on the Hobart Class destroyers and Anzac Class frigates, replacing the ageing Harpoon anti-ship missile on those ships from 2024.

Kongsberg Defence Australia has committed to working with Australian industry on the project, creating local jobs and building Australia’s industrial capability.

Defence has also reiterated it will acquire the land-based, long-range, surface-to-surface High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which includes launchers, missiles and training rockets. This announcement was originally made in early 2022 and the Australian government said last week that HIMARS will be in service by 2026-27, providing the Australian Army with a significant capability boost.

HIMARS munitions currently have a range of up to 300 kilometres, which is expected to increase with technological advances. HIMARS includes a weapon locating radar to detect and respond to land, air and maritime threats, which is being delivered by Australian company CEA.

The combined total investment in these new acquisitions is more than $1.0 billion, says Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy. The US DoD’s official notification to the US Congress of Australia’s request stated that the HIMARS package would amount to $563 million (US$385 million).

“The Naval Strike Missile is a major step up in capability for our Navy’s warships, while HIMARS launchers have been successfully deployed by the Ukrainian military over recent months and are a substantial new capability for the Army,” said Conroy

At Land Forces 2022 Kongsberg and Partner Thales Australia unveiled the Strikemaster, a coastal defence variant of the NSM which will see two missiles mounted on a Bushmaster ute. While the 2020 Force Structure Plan includes provision for a coastal defence missile system, the Australian Department of Defence has not ordered the Strikemaster or any other system as yet.

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