Australia will boost its defense capabilities by spending more than U.S. $700 million on advanced missile and rocket systems, including the United States-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which is proving crucial in enabling Ukrainian forces to hit key Russian targets.
The Australian government said in January 2023 that the HIMARS will include launchers, missiles and training rockets, and will be deployed by 2026. It said the system’s range of 300 kilometers is expected to increase with technological advances.
Canberra said it also signed a contract with Norway-based Kongsberg to buy Naval Strike Missiles for destroyers and frigates, which would replace Harpoon anti-ship missiles beginning in 2024.
Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles, who also is deputy prime minister, said in a statement that the “Naval Strike Missile and HIMARS launchers will give our Defence Force the ability to deter conflict and protect our interests.”
Australia and the U.S. have become increasingly concerned about the People’s Republic of China’s growing assertiveness in the Pacific. Those concerns were heightened after Beijing signed a security pact in 2022 with the Solomon Islands.
The U.S. State Department in 2022 approved the potential sale to Australia of 20 HIMARS and related equipment at an estimated cost of U.S. $385 million.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States,” the U.S. Defense Department said at the time. “Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region.”
The Associated Press