The US Department of State has approved the possible sale of Lockheed Martin’s M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to Australia.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said on 26 May that the Foreign Military Sale of 20 M142 launchers and associated weapons and equipment is estimated to cost USD385 million. The proposed deal needs approval by the US Congress.
In addition to the M142s, equipment in the deal include 30 M30A2 guided multiple launch rocket systems (GMLRS), 30 M31A2 GMLRS unitary high-explosive pods, 30 XM403 extended range alternative warhead pods, and 10 M57 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) munitions.
DSCA said the proposed deal supports US security objectives in the Indo-Pacific. “The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to meet current and future threats, and will enhance interoperability with US forces and other allied forces,” it added.
The proposed acquisition will meet the Australian Army’s Project LAND 8113 Phase 1 long-range fires requirement. The mobile 16 tonne HIMARS system is air-deployable via C-130J and C-17 and is designed to accommodate the 500 km range Precision Strike Missile (PrSM), which is currently being developed by Lockheed Martin, the US Army, and Australia under a cooperative development program. The GPS/INS-guided rockets are carried in pods of 12, which can be quickly unloaded and reloaded onto the launch vehicle.
In July 2021 HIMARS was demonstrated to the Australian Army in a joint exercise – named ‘Talisman Sabre’ – with the US Army at the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area in Queensland. The weapon was also featured in the 2019 iteration of the event, which was designed to develop interoperability between the two armies.
The HIMARS is also capable of firing a precision strike missile that the United States and Australia are co-developing.
In 2021 the Australian Army agreed to participate in the US Army’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) programme. Under the arrangement, Australia said it would contribute USD54 million to the project with a commitment to increase the lethality, range, and target engagement of the baseline PrSM in development.
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