skip to Main Content

Kongsberg, Thales pitch StrikeMaster vehicle-mounted NSM at ADF

The Australian Army is thinking about fielding a new coastal defence battery under Project LAND 4100 Ph.2. The new battery would form part of Army’s new Fires Brigade which includes a Land Based Maritime Strike capability. Army is reported to be considering buying up to 30 systems to protect the Australian shoreline as well as deployed forces in the archipelago to Australia’s north.

One possibility to satisfy this requirement could be the Kongsberg-Thales Australia StrikeMaster, which was unveiled at Land Forces 2022.

The StrikeMaster consists of the Norwegian company’s Naval Strike Missile (NSM), an anti-ship weapon with a range of at least 250km, mounted on a ute version of Thales Australia’s armoured, high-mobility and proven Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle (PMV). Kongsberg would be prime contractor for this system which would see two missiles and their Launcher Missile Modules (LMM) mounted on the vehicle.

The NSM and its LMMs would be identical to those already ordered by the RAN to replace the ageing Harpoon anti-ship missiles aboard its Hobart and Anzac-class surface combatants under Project SEA 1300. The NSM’s passive, autonomous guidance system can automatically recognise potential targets, right down to the class of ship it is looking at and is expected to enter service from 2024.

A StrikeMaster is light enough to be carried on a C-17 transport aircraft or an RAN landing craft. Once in its operational area it would self-deploy to a remote site to dominate local sea areas.

The Army is reported to be looking at up to 30 deployable land based maritime strike systems. According to Kongsberg an NSM battery could consist of 3 or 4 troops, each with a command vehicle, four StrikeMaster NSM launch vehicles, a missile supply vehicle and a technical support vehicle.

According to the 2020 Force Structure Plan, Project LAND 4100 Ph.2 has a value of up to $500 million with a delivery date of around 2024.

The NSM has also been ordered by eight other nations including the US Marine Corps which uses the same missile and LMM on an unmanned version of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) to create what it terms the Naval-Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS). This is designed to protect its naval and land forces when undertaking amphibious operations.

The Bushmaster ute (which was launched some ten years ago) will be manufactured in Bendigo by Thales Australia while Kongsberg Defence Australia will manufacture the LMMs at Mawson Lakes, SA. There’s also a possibility Thales Australia will manufacture the rocket motor propellant and warhead for the NSM in Australia, as it did for Kongsberg’s Penguin air-launched anti-ship missile which was acquired to arm the ill-fated SH-2G(A) Super Seasprite helicopter.

The fire control system for the StrikeMasters would be very similar to that developed for the Army’s joint Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) system. This is based on the Kongsberg-Raytheon NASAMS surface-air missile system. However, because the 250km range of the NSM exceeds any land-based sensor by far, the StrikeMaster Fire Control System (FCS) will integrate target data from third party systems such as the P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft and other sources of targeting data.

Back To Top