Australia secures approval for air-to-surface missile order
By Charbel Kadib
The US State Department has rubberstamped a proposed Commonwealth government request for Lockheed Martin-built JASSM weapons systems for the RAAF.
The Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced the approval of a US$235 million ($340 million) purchase request from the Commonwealth government for 80 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles – Extended Range (JASSM ER) weapons systems and related equipment.
The deal also includes the provision of:
- missile containers and support equipment;
- JASSM training missiles; and
- technical support and training.
The missiles — to be delivered by prime contractor Lockheed Martin — are expected to provide the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with advanced, long-range strike systems capability.
The JASSM weapons systems can be deployed from Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets and Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighter jets.
In a statement announcing the approved purchase request, the DSCA noted the geostrategic benefits of the missile order.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States,” the DSCA noted in a statement.
“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.
“It is vital to the US national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defence capability.”
Australia’s request to purchase the JASSM weapons system is the latest of several foreign military orders for strike capability from the United States.
Last month, a US$94 million ($135.7 million) foreign military sale of advanced precision strike capability to Australia was approved by the US State Department.
The deal includes:
- 15 AGM-88E2 Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) guidance sections;
- Up to 15 AARGM control sections;
- up to 15 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) rocket motors;
- up to 15 HARM warheads;
- up to 15 HARM control sections;
- AGM-88E2 AARGM All Up Round (AUR) tactical missiles;
- software support; and
- training equipment.
The Northrop Grumman-built, anti-radiation missiles are deployed by strike fighters against modern surface-to-air threats.
The systems are designed to provide a combination of precision, survivability and lethality, reportedly capable of rapidly engaging land and sea-based air-defence threats, as well as striking time-sensitive targets.
This deal came a month after the US greenlit Australia’s proposed request to purchase 20 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) for approximately US$385 million ($542 million).