Australian Government is planning to invest $1 billion to commence the early development of advanced guided weapons to enhance the country’s maritime security.
The Project SEA 1300 Phase 1 will provide Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships and submarines with leading-edge long-range anti-ship missiles (AShMs), extended range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), advanced lightweight torpedoes, and maritime land strike capabilities. The anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles will have ranges in excess of 370 kilometers while the planned maritime land strike missiles will have a range 1,500 kilometers.
The Australian Department of Defence said in a statement that this “significant commitment will modernise the Navy’s platforms to project and maintain sea control”. The statement added that these new weapons will enhance the protection of the country’s maritime resources and borders, and “hold adversaries at risk at much greater distances”.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said new investments would be made across the current and future submarine and surface combatant fleets, to provide the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with more options to protect Australia’s interests.
“These new capabilities will provide a strong, credible deterrent that will ensure stability and security in the region,” Minister Reynolds said. “The planned acquisitions – when aligned with the ongoing state-of-the-art combat system development and National shipbuilding programs – represent an investment of up to $24 billion, which will build a lethal and highly responsive Navy for decades to come.”
“The project also seeks opportunities to broaden Australia’s weapons manufacturing base, reinforcing this Government’s long-term commitment to Australian industry and delivering sovereign industrial capabilities. This investment is part of the Morrison Government’s $183 billion Naval Shipbuilding Plan, which will see up to 23 classes of vessels built here in Australia, creating thousands of jobs and significant opportunities for Australian industry,” the Minister added.
Head Navy Capability Rear Admiral Peter Quinn said this investment would maintain Navy’s capability edge into the future. “Guided weapons are an integral part of the ADF’s ability to ensure military advantage by holding adversary forces and infrastructure at risk at greater distances from Australia,” he said.
The DoD statement added that the Defence, as part of SEA 1300, will continue its long-term investment and key contribution to the RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 program, and commence investment in developing the Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) Block IIIC and the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) Block 1 missiles, to meet Australia’s surface-to-air missile capability requirements.
The Standard Missile family of weapons integrates seamlessly into the Aegis combat system, the backbone of Navy’s integrated air and missile defence capability. With production having commenced in 2019, the ESSM Block 2 is expected to be initially employed in the Anzac-class frigate in the next few years.