Australia to purchase US-made HIMARS missile system

Australia to purchase US-made HIMARS missile system

Seoul, South Korea CNN –

Australia confirmed on Thursday it is buying two advanced missile and missile systems, including one used by Ukraine with destructive force against Russia, as a deterrent against potential regional threats to its security.

The purchase of the systems, the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and the High Mobility Artillery Missile System (HIMARS), has been in the works since last spring, when then-Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the war in Ukraine and threats close by China, indicated the need for Australia to improve its defensive weapons systems.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles reiterated this point in a statement on Thursday about the two deals, which put the total price tag at $684 million (A$1 billion).

“The Albanian government is taking a proactive approach to keeping Australia safe – and the naval attack missiles and HIMARS launchers will give our defense force the ability to deter conflict and protect our interests,” Marles said.

“The level of technology involved in these purchases brings our forces to the cutting edge of modern military equipment,” said Pat Conroy, minister for defense industry.

HIMARS launchers have been seen as a big change for Ukraine since the United States began supplying Kiev last summer.

Just last week, HIMARS attacks made headlines for killing dozens of Russian recruits sheltering in a vocational school in the occupied Donetsk region.

The US State Department approved their sale to Australia last May, putting the price tag on a package that also included similar equipment at $385 million.

But the systems are land-based and the Norwegian-designed Naval Strike missiles may be more important in the immediate term for the Australian defense force.

The maneuverable glide-at-sea guns will be fitted to the Australian Navy’s destroyers and frigates. With their 185-kilometer (115-mile) range, they will double the range of Australia’s current cruise missiles, the Australian Ministry of Defense said in a statement last April when it first announced the purchase.

Thursday’s statement said Naval Strike missiles will begin replacing Harpoon missiles on Australian warships in 2024, while HIMARS will be in the Australian arsenal by 2026-27.

Some Australian military analysts said Thursday’s announcement was largely political, as both were announced by a right-leaning government that was voted out of office in favor of a left-leaning government last May 21.

“I suppose there’s a deeper political message to show that the new left-leaning government … is keen on defense spending,” said Peter Layton, a visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and former Air Force officer. Royal Australian.

The purchase of the HIMARS system, which is focused on land-based warfare, could be a way to keep the votes of the military’s backers as Australia’s biggest defense focus has been on China, including its plan to purchased nuclear-powered submarines in the AUKUS agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom.

“The Australian military is looking for a role now that the Middle East wars are over,” Layton said. “They are unable to find a place for themselves given Australia’s current strategic circumstances which favor air and naval power.”

Ian Hall, deputy director of research at Griffith Asia, said a role for HIMARS was being debated in the country.

“I imagine that HIMARS could be used in a contingency in Southeast Asia or even somewhere in the Pacific,” he said, noting that US Marines have been training with HIMARS with the idea of ​​deploying them to the Pacific Islands in case of hostilities. in the region.

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