The Commonwealth government has announced a multimillion-dollar investment in a US-led precision missile program.
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The ADF will collaborate with the US Armed Forces as part of a new initiative aimed at developing new precision missile capability to support military modernisation and further bolster interoperability.
According to Minister for Defence Peter Dutton, the government has committed $70 million to the $907 million Precision Strike Missile program (PrSM), which is expected to fund the development of long-range, surface-to-surface, all weather, precision-strike guided missiles.
The missiles will be designed to destroy, neutralise and suppress diverse targets at ranges from 70 to over 400 kilometres.
This forms part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the Australian Army and the US Military, which seeks to increase the lethality, range and target engagement of the baseline missile in development.
The MOU is expected to present local industry with opportunities to provide domestic component manufacture, maintenance, repair, weapon surveillance and research support.
The US Army’s Defense Exports and Cooperation, Deputy Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Wilson described the agreement as one of the US military’s largest co-operative acquisition programs entered into with a partner nation.
“Australia’s cooperation with the PrSM compliments the US presence in the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility; reinforces our dedication to allies in the Indo-Pacific; and sets a path forward for US Army Long Range Precision Fires in the region,” she said.
The Australian Army’s Head of Land Capability Major General Simon Stuart, noted the potential benefits of the new initiative, set to evolve to incorporate the development of technology for other warfighting domains.
“Increment 2 of the program, committed under the MOU, will seek to incorporate technology that allows ships and air-defence systems to be engaged,” MAJGEN Stuart said.
Australia’s contribution to the program is expected to support broader strategic objectives highlighted in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update.
The $70 million investment is in addition to the approximately $1 billion committed as part of a push to establish a Sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise (GWEOE) capability for the ADF.
Defence recently published a request for information on AusTender, seeking input from defence industry and academia regarding capacity and interest in supporting the GWEOE.
The initiative aims to address gaps by providing stakeholders, both SMEs and established primes, with opportunities in advanced manufacturing through the establishment of industry partnerships.
Defence is currently in the process of defining key requirements for the enterprise.
Electro Optic Systems (EOS) and Nova Systems are the latest to express interest in the program, jointly establishing the Sovereign Missile Alliance (SMA).
SMA is competing with local munitions company NIOA, which recently set up the Australian Missile Corporation (AMC) as part of its bid.
A number of firms have joined the AMC consortium, including Quickstep, Moog Australia, Black Sky Aerospace and Thomas Global Systems.
Lockheed Martin Australia and Thales Australia have also finalised a teaming agreement to facilitate co-operation in the design, development and production of Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile – Surface Launch variant.