Western Australia is set to host a key US/Australian exercise that will develop how the Australian Defence Force employs land-based, precision, long-range rocket artillery and maritime strike missiles.
CAPTION: A HIMARS crewmember with the US Army’s 17th Field Artillery Brigade guides his vehicle at the Port of Tacoma, Washington, before loading on a ship bound for Australia. US Army photo by Sergeant Joshua Oh.
Scheduled for late 28 July to 3 August, Exercise Highball will be a combined Australian Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) and US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) initiative.
The exercise will be conducted from Lancelin, 125km north of Perth, and into the Western Australia Exercise Area (WAXA), in the Indian Ocean to the west and south-west of Perth.
It will use a range of air, land, space and maritime capabilities to send targeting data to a US Army High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) platoon to test long-range fires concepts.
Australia’s Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said the exercise would demonstrate the ADF’s commitment to the Defence Strategic Review 2023 recommendation that the introduction into Australian service of a HIMARS and a land-based maritime strike capability was accelerated and expanded.
“The need to integrate land-based long-range fires into the ADF’s operational capability is urgent, and the close and dynamic relationship we enjoy with INDOPACOM means we can meet this priority,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.
“By using a US Army HIMARS strike package and US military ships already in Australia for Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023, we can advance our understanding of projecting and employing HIMARS and maritime strike missiles within a shorter timeframe.
“The exercise will also enhance US interoperability with the ADF’s targeting capabilities and the operational employment of land-based precision multi-domain fires.”
A HIMARS strike package from the US Army’s famous I Corps was loaded onto a ship in America in May, let]stined for Australia’s east coast.
From there, the platoon of vehicles, including two HIMARS launchers, will transfer to a US Army logistics-support vessel for the trip to Fleet Base West, where they will stage through Perth and on to Lancelin for the exercise in late July.