Aussie gunners trial new missile defence system

Photo: Australian Army soldiers from 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) training team, demonstrate the operation of the NASAMS Mk II Canister Launcher during a trial and certification activity at the Beecroft Weapons Range, NSW. Photo: CPL Jacob Joseph.

By Robert Dougherty

The 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery gunners have got their hands on the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System for the first time.

Air defence personnel were invited to attend a trial and certification activity to test system components with the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) last month near Jervis Bay.

The regiment takes initial delivery of an enhanced Norwegian design of the system with an Australian Hawkei-based launcher and infrared/optical sensor during May this year, with qualification training set to begin soon after.

NASAMS is capable of operating independently, however, it will also be integrated with joint air-defence under the future Project AIR 6500 to synchronise capabilities to provide layered air defence.

Lance Bombardier Mitchell North, of 110th Battery, will be among the first soldiers qualified.

“We’ve been waiting for NASAMS for quite some time, so it’s good to finally see the equipment and get it going,” LBDR North said.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the first missile live-fire, but even just doing the tests, getting it slewing, and opening the missile-bay doors was really cool to watch.”

NASAMS is already in use with military personnel from the US and Ukraine. A mixture of AMRAAM or Sidewinder missiles can be loaded on a Hawkei high-mobility launcher or MK II canister launcher, deployed from an HX77 heavy truck enabling mission flexibility with up to six missiles carried per platform.

Each troop will operate three canister or high-mobility launchers and 110th Battery will be the first kitted out with NASAMS. The regiment is expected to field two batteries once full operational capability is reached by 2026.

Commander 110th Battery Major Brett Watson said 16th Regiment was entering a new chapter.

“The introduction into service of NASAMS represents a step change in ground-based air defence capability for the ADF, providing the ability to sense and effect at much greater ranges with state-of-the-art equipment,” MAJ Watson said.

“The whole team is very excited about this journey.

“This familiarisation activity is about allowing those conducting the initial training to learn more about the equipment and interact with the CASG and Defence Industry teams — it was a very valuable trip.”

The 16th Regiment will relocate from Woodside Barracks to new purpose-built facilities at RAAF Edinburgh once construction is complete.


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