Australia’s Ministry of Defence has made investments in its military to enhance its long range capabilities, announcing today that it will be investing A$1.7bn ($1.1bn) in long range-strike missiles, including A$1.4bn on Tomahawk missiles and a further A$431m on advanced anti-radiation guided extended range missiles (AARGM-ER).
Australia adjusted its defence priorities this year in appreciation the escalating tensions with China and the reality of strategic competition indo-pacific between the US and China. In addition to high levels of investment through AUKUS for nuclear submarines in the future, Australia has recognised that long range precision strike capabilities are essential for addressing the profile of threats it faces.
The Tomahawk is a sea-launched cruise missile that flies up to 1500km at a low altitudes and at sub-sonic speeds, making it difficult to detect during its journey using radar, according to the CSIS Missile Defense Project.
Australia will purchase 200 Raytheon-manufactured Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US to equip its Navy’s Hobart-class air warfare destroyers. These are the first Royal Australian Navy warships to be equipped with the Aegis combat systems for tracking and guiding weapons. The Tomahawks will join the SM-6 long range anti-aircraft missile, the Naval Strike Missile that is replacing the Harpoon missile system, and the MU90 torpedoes, to be among the Hobart-class destroyer’s armaments.
The investment in AARGM-ER will buy 60 missiles to be operated by the Royal Australian Air Force in targeting enemy radar systems, mounted on Growler and Super Hornet aircraft and eventually on the F-35A Lightning II fighters. Anti-radiation missiles. The additional range of the air-to-surface missiles is inline with the desire to eliminate air-defence systems before the aircraft can be targeted, and was developed by the US with the intention of doubling the range of its predecessor, according to CSIS.
Australia is also purchasing Spike Long-Range 2 anti-tank guided missiles for the Army’s Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles. Produced by Rafael, the Spike LR II missile weapon system is a 5th generation man-portable system making use of a trailing fibre-optic cable for an electro-optical guided capability.
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For lock-on after launch firing, the Spike system is immune to GPS jamming and radio frequency jamming, and allows the operator to redirect the missile to another target, to fire outside of line of sight, or to fire speculatively.
In fire-and-forget mode, the soldier activates the missile, locking the tracker on the target and pushes the fire button to launch. The missile automatically propels itself towards the target without any additional interaction and this fire-and-forget capability allows the soldier the option of relocating to a new firing position or to reload immediately for the next engagement.