The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced that the US State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale (FMS) to Australia of 20 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and 30 M30A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) for the Australian Army.
The 26 May approval is valued at an estimated US$385m (A$542m), and includes 30 Alternative Warhead Pods with Insensitive Munitions Propulsion Systems (IMPS), 30 M31A2 GMLRS Unitary High Explosive Pods with IMPS, 30 XM403 Extended Range GMLRS AW Pods, 30 EM404 ER GMLRS Unitary Pods, and 10 M57 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles.
The proposed acquisition will meet the Australian Army’s Project LAND 8113 Phase 1 long-range fires requirement. The mobile 16-tonne HIMARS system is air-deployable via C-130J and C-17, and is designed to accommodate the 500km+-range Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) which is currently being developed by Lockheed Martin, the US Army, and Australia under a cooperative development program.
The M30A2 GLMRS is an extended-range rocket system with a range of up to 150km. The GPS/INS-guided rockets are carried in pods of 12 which can be quickly unloaded and reloaded onto the launch vehicle. Alternatively, using a different sleeve the pods can carry two of the larger 300km-range ATACMS missiles, or one ATACMS and six M30A2s.
Australia first expressed an interest in acquiring a rocket system for Army in the 2016 Defence White Paper which announced that the government would enhance Army’s firepower with a new long-range rocket in the mid-2020s to complement existing artillery capabilities. “The new system will be capable of providing fire support to defeat threats to our personnel at ranges of up to 300 kilometres,” the White Paper says.
The accompanying 2016 Integrated Investment Program added that enhanced C4I and high levels of airspace and target coordination will support the introduction of this substantial new capability for the ADF. The projected cost is between $750m and $1bn over the period 2023-30.
US Army and US Marine Corps HIMARS systems have been regular visitors to Australia for Exercise Talisman Saber, and for the annual Marine Corps rotational deployments to the Northern Territory in recent years.