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Milestone reached for Aussie Evolved Sea Sparrow tech

hmas toowoomba fires an essm at rimpac
HMAS Toowoomba fires an Evolved Sea Sparrow missile in the Pacific Missile Range Facility near the island of Kaua’i during Exercise RIMPAC 2018 (Source Dept of Defence)

Locally developed technology supporting the supersonic Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) has reached a global milestone for prime contractor BAE Systems Australia. 

Locally developed technology supporting the supersonic Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) has reached a global milestone for prime contractor BAE Systems Australia. 

Designed and manufactured in Australia, the technology controls the supersonic ESSM as it leaves a ship’s vertical launch system. 


The specific technology is called a thrust vector controller and some 3,000 have been produced at BAE Systems’ advanced manufacturing facility at Edinburgh Parks, South Australia, since production started in the late 1990s.

BAE Systems chief executive Gabby Costigan said, "This is a great example of a global program that required world-leading technology and the solution was found here in Australia."

The next-generation ESSM incorporates technology upgrades that are currently being tested in flight trials at sea and will be more effective against ever-evolving anti-ship cruise missile threats. 

"The ESSM program, together with the Nulka Active Missile Decoy program, have established BAE Systems as Australia’s capability provider of guided weapons and autonomous systems to the our Defence Force and allied nations," Costigan explained. 

BAE Systems Australia has been responsible for delivering more than 20 per cent of each ESSM, with contracts to date worth around $400 million. In the new program, BAE Systems will also manufacture the missile fuselage, guidance section internal structure and telemetry transmitter.


Low rate initial production will start in 2019 and full rate production is expected in 2021 at an estimated contract value of about $32 million a year over the next decade.

BAE Systems Australia secured the initial ESSM development contract in 1995, leveraging its expertise in thrust vectoring systems and missile flight controls developed through the Nulka program. 

The ESSM is produced under a collaborative program between Australia, the US, Canada and other NATO Nations and is operational on almost 200 naval platforms worldwide.  

ESSM is a supersonic surface to air missile that protects warships against anti-ship missiles. BAE Systems Australia has been a major industry partner in the program for which Raytheon Missile Systems (Tucson, Arizona) is the prime contractor. 

In RAN service, ESSM is fitted to Adelaide Class frigates, Anzac Class frigates and the Hobart Class guided missile destroyers and will also be fitted to the Hunter Class frigates.

ESSM is also in service with the other nine navies of the consortium countries (US, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Turkey and Greece) as well as a number of other customer navies.

Milestone reached for Aussie Evolved Sea Sparrow tech
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