The Australian government has announced the acquisition of new weapon systems to boost the capabilities of the country’s defence forces to counter potential national security threats.
The effort aims to boost the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) existing guided weapons and explosive ordnance stocks.
As part of this initiative, the government has awarded two separate contracts for procuring new naval strike missiles (NSM) for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) for the Army.
HIMARS will be delivered by Australian company CEA, while the NSMs will be provided by Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.
The estimated cumulative value of both the awards is approximately $675.80m (AUD1bn).
The NSMs are being procured to replace the ageing Harpoon anti-ship missiles used with the RAN’s Anzac-class vessels and Hobart-class destroyers. The NSM award falls under the Australian Department of Defence’s (DoD) Project SEA1300.
Delivery of the new strike missiles and associated equipment to the RAN is expected to start from 2024.
Kongsberg said that the latest substantial contract has an estimated value of $488m (NOK5bn) and was signed in December 2022. It will be included in Kongsberg’s Q4 2022 order intake.
The company was initially selected by the Australian government in April 2022. It was followed by an initial contract signing between Australian government and Kongsberg in July last year.
Australian Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said: “The level of technology involved in these acquisitions takes our forces to the cutting edge of modern military hardware.
“The NSM 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.”