Sydney, Australia, Jan 5 (EFE).- The Australian government said on Thursday that it will spend more than AU$1 billion ($684 million) on new naval missiles and a long-range rocket system to strengthen defenses and deter possible national security threats.
“The government is boosting Australia’s ability to deter potential threats to national security by substantially increasing the defense force’s guided weapons and explosive ordnance stocks,” a defense ministry statement said.
The new defense purchases include missiles that can be launched from the Hobart Class destroyers and Anzac Class frigates, replacing the aging Harpoon anti-ship missile on those ships starting in 2024.
Another key acquisition would be the land-based, long-range, surface-to-surface High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which includes launchers, missiles, and training rockets.
Ukraine is using US-manufactured HIMARS against Russia.
The rocket system is widely credited with helping the Ukrainian armed forces turn the tide in the war against the Russians.
The ministry said the system would be in use by 2026–2027.
HIMARS munitions currently have a range of up to 300 km, which is expected to increase with technological advances.
It includes a weapon-locating radar to detect and respond to land, air, and maritime threats.
The statement said the ministry has signed a contract with the Norway-headquartered Kongsberg defense manufacturer to deliver the Naval Strike Missile (NSM).
The statement said the NSM contained leading-edge technology to provide Royal Australian Navy ships with a powerful maritime strike capability.
“In the current strategic environment, it’s important the Australian Defence Force is equipped with high-end, targeted military capabilities,” Defense Minister Richard Marles said in the statement.
“The government is taking a proactive approach to keeping Australia safe – and the Naval Strike Missile and HIMARS launchers will give our defense force the ability to deter conflict and protect our interests.”
Defense Industry Minister Pat Conroy said the level of technology involved in the new acquisitions would take “our forces to the cutting edge of modern military hardware.”
“The Naval Strike Missile 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.”
In recent years, Australia has joined various multilateral defense pacts and increased its military spending to maintain a more proactive strategy as China has been flexing its muscles in the Asia-Pacific region. EFE