Once derided as “floating targets” because of their limited weapons, Australia’s ANZAC frigates will soon be equipped with a world-class anti-ship capability with the new Norwegian KONGSBERG Naval Strike Missile (NSM).
It’s planned that the ANZACs and also Navy’s three Hobart class DDGs will be equipped with NSM by 2024 under an accelerated acquisition announced in early April.
NSM, with a nominal range of 250-kilometres but substantially more with the appropriate flight profile, will replace the Navy’s ageing RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
As delivered from the 1990s, the ANZACs came fitted for but not with a range of weapons including anti-ship missiles, prompting former Defence Industry Minister Bronwyn Bishop to colourfully label them ‘floating targets’.
The ANZACs are now fully equipped with modern weapons, though the Harpoons, with a range of some 220-kilometres when air-launched, are due for replacement.
KONGSBERG said the fifth-generation NSM would provide a significant increase in strike capability, can be easily integrated to the relevant ship classes, and could be used for maritime strike and land attack. It can be launched from ships, vehicles and, as the JSM, aircraft.
“We are very proud that Australia has chosen the NSM, joining a growing community of users comprising key allies and partners, including the United States,” Øyvind Kolset, executive vice president in the missile division in Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace said in a 9 May company release.
John Fry, general manager of Kongsberg Defence Australia added that NSM was designed to operate in complex and contested environments, providing an exceptional deterrence value which is key to Australia’s ability to influence regional operations.
“In partnership with our Norwegian colleagues, we are committed to working with the customer to equip the ANZAC Class Frigates and Hobart Class Destroyers with this world-class strike capability by 2024.” he said.