The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has advised that the US State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale (FMS) to Australia of future naval extended air defence and possible ballistic missile defence (BMD) capabilities and associated services.
The August 25 notification states that Australia has requested the acquisition of services and future production access to Raytheon SM-6 Block I and SM-2 Block IIIC missile production, the acquisition of which is planned under Project SEA 1300 Phase 1.
According to the notice, the services comprise “development; engineering, integration, and testing (EI&T); obsolescence engineering activities required to ensure readiness; US Government and contractor engineering/technical assistance, and related studies and analysis support; technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of program and logistical support” to the value of US$350m (A$481m).
It says the services will support the readiness and future sale of the weapons for employment from the RAN’s forthcoming Project SEA 5000 Hunter class frigates which will feature the Aegis combat system, CEA arrays, and Lockheed Martin Mk41 vertical launch systems (VLS).
“The purchase of Standard Missile 6 Block I (SM-6) and Standard Missile 2 Block IIIC (SM-2 IIIC) missiles is currently included in Australia’s procurement roadmap and will improve their ability to operate alongside U.S. and Allied naval forces against the full spectrum of naval threats,” the notification reads.
The RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM) – more commonly dubbed the SM-6 – combines the SM-2ER airframe with the active seeker from the AIM-120C7 AMRAAM, and a Mk72 booster. The AMRAAM seeker will allow it to engage manoeuvring targets, while the booster will give it a range of more than 130nm (210km). The SM6 also reportedly has a ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability against warhead-sized targets in the terminal phase, and is also being developed for use against ships.
The SM-2 Block IIIC is a developmental version of the SM-2ER missile already in service with the RAN and, as with the SM-6, also combines the AMRAAM active seeker with the SM-2 airframe.
The notice says, “Implementation of the proposed sale will require US Government and contractor personnel to visit Australia on a temporary basis in conjunction with program technical oversight and support requirements, including program and technical reviews.”