Australia’s federal government today announced an investment of more than $1.7 billion in some of the most powerful and technologically advanced weapons systems ever fielded by the Australian Defence Force.
FILE PHOTO (August 17, 2018): Guided missile destroyer USS Dewey conducts a Tomahawk missile flight test while underway in the western Pacific. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin M. Langer.
The package includes 200 Tomahawk™ cruise missiles, 60 Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) and an unspecified number of Spike Long-Range 2 anti-tank guided missiles.
Tomahawk™ cruise missiles are precision weapons that rocket launch from ships or submarines, then fly with wings and a jet engine for up to 1500km and can strike targets with GPS precision, even in heavily defended airspace.
Minister for Defence [though he prefers to be known as Deputy Prime Minister, even when the news is in the Defence portfolio] Richard Marles said long-range strike missiles and other guided weapons were fundamental to the ADF’s ability to deploy enhanced strike capabilities and hold an adversary at risk at longer ranges.
“To build this critical capability, the government has decided to purchase more than 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States for the Royal Australian Navy’s Hobart Class destroyers, for approximately $1.3 billion,” Mr Marles said.
“Australia will be only one of three nations to have them, along with the United States and the United Kingdom.
“In addition, the government has approved the acquisition of more than 60 Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) from the United States for $431 million.
“These air-to-ground specialised missiles are used to target enemy radar systems and will be operated on the Royal Australian Air Force’s Growler and Super Hornet aircraft and, in future, on the F-35A Lightning II fighter jets.
“The Australian Army’s Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles will also be armed with Spike Long-Range 2 anti-tank guided missiles.
“This will provide soldiers with the capability to engage with enemy armour at a range of more than five kilometres.
“Under a contract worth more than $50 million, Varley Rafael Australia is expected to deliver the first Spike missile early next year.”
“The Defence Strategic Review emphasised the need for Australia to be able to hold an adversary at risk further from our shores, by developing the ADF’s ability to precisely strike targets at longer range.”
Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said that as we enter what many are calling the missile age, these advanced missiles would be vital tools for the Australian Defence Force to do its job defending Australians.
“We are buying these weapons now to deliver capability quickly – but we are also considering options to manufacture missiles domestically because of the importance of building sovereign Australian defence manufacturing capabilities.”