HiMARS, PrSM and JAGM all in Play
As the Australian Army develops its long-range missile capabilities, it is sourcing more material from the US and becoming more closely involved in technological development.
At Land Forces 2022, Lockheed Martin Australia has emphasised the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HiMARS) system it is bidding for the Land 8113 Long Range Fires programme. Meanwhile, Australia is also involved with increment 2 development of the company’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) development, following a 2021 MoU.
Paula Hartley, VP of Enterprise Performance for Missiles and Fire Control at Lockheed Martin, said $157 million contract for Increment 2 of PrSM at the end of September was for seeker integration to hit moving targets. Under the earlier Increment 1, the company is delivering 26 early operational capability PrSM from October 2022 to mid-2024. Increment 2, to which Australia is contributing A$70 million ($45.3 million), will see the delivery of an additional 54 missiles to the US which, Hartley said, will be followed by low-rate initial production. If Australia selects HiMARS, will not only fire the 70km-range Guided MLRS (GMLRS) weapon; it will also have access to the 499km-range PrSM capability.
Lockheed Martin is developing an extended range version of the GMLRS, which Hartley explained will enter testing this month till the end of the year, with completion of system qualification testing anticipated in 2024. She added this will give HiMARS a long-range guided missile strike capability out to 70km, to 150km with GMLRS and GMLRS-ER and 499km with PrMS. She confirmed the HiMARS offered to Australia will use the FMTV vehicle, as changing the vehicle will be too time consuming and costly. Lockheed Martin is working on developing a HiMARS support centre concept in Australia, to bring all sustainment activities into one precinct to increase cost savings, increase readiness rates and eliminate supply chain issues related to shipping equipment back and forth from the US.
The company is also developing the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) Extended Range variant, equipped with a semi-active laser and millimetre-wave radar, in development as a successor to the Hellfire missile launched from the MH-60R and Apache helicopters. The ER variant will offer a range of 16km, double that of standard JAGM and Hellfire.
Tim Fish reporting from Brisbane for MON