Australia purchased 220 long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles

The acquisition of some of the most powerful and technologically advanced weapons systems the ADF has fielded will enhance Australia’s ability to target enemies at longer ranges.

More than $1.7 billion will be invested in long-range strike missiles and other guided weapons, capabilities the Defence Minister Richard Marles said the ADF needed “to be able to hold an adversary at risk further from our shores”.

Australia will become one of only three nations to possess a Tomahawk long-range strike capability when it purchases more than 200 of the cruise missiles from the United States for the Royal Australian Navy’s Hobart-class destroyers.

The Tomahawk missiles, costing about $1.3 billion, have a range of 1500 kilometres.

Australia will also acquire more than 60 AARGM-ER (advanced anti-radiation guided missile – extended range) missiles from the United States for $431 million.

The air-to-ground missiles, used to target enemy radar systems, 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.

Meanwhile, Army’s Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles will be armed with Spike Long-Range 2 anti-tank guided missiles, which will enable soldiers to engage with the enemy at a range of more than five kilometres.

Varley Rafael Australia is expected to deliver the first Spike missile early next year, under a contract worth $50 million, and is developing options for domestic manufacturing.

The announcement of the $1.7 billion investment came on top of news that the acquisition of HIMARS (high-mobility artillery rocket system) launchers for the ADF will double to 42.

About $1.6 billion will be spent on expanding and accelerating the acquisition of the land-based, long-range, surface-to-surface HIMARS and associated munitions and support systems.

The project also includes the precision strike missile (PrSM), which is expected to have a maximum range beyond 500 kilometres.

Defence is developing plans to manufacture HIMARS-compatible missiles in Australia from 2025.

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said the acquisition of the advanced weapons delivered on the recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review.

“We are also considering options to manufacture missiles domestically because of the importance of building sovereign Australian defence manufacturing capabilities,” Mr Conroy said.

The United States’ State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Australia of 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles for an estimated cost of $895 million back in March this year.

As we previously reported, Australia was looking at outfitting its in-service Collins-class submarines with Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles as part of their forthcoming Life of Type Extension (LOTE). However the fate of this plan is uncertain now, following the announcement that the Royal Australian Navy is set to field Virginia-class submarines from the early 2030ies.

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