16 January 2024

GLMRS missile rounds to be manufactured in Australia from 2025

| Andrew McLaughlin
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A salvo of GLMRS rockets is fired from the US Army High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) near Rockhampton during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021. Photo: ADF.

Australia’s ambitions to become more self-sufficient in the manufacturing of precision-guided weapons under the Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise (GWEO) effort have taken a step forward with the signing of a $37.4 million contract between Defence and Lockheed Martin Australia to assemble Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) missiles in Australia.

Under the Guided Weapons Production Capability (GWPC) Risk Reduction Activity contract, Lockheed Martin Australia will commence the fit-out of the Defence Establishment Orchard Hills in western Sydney in preparation for a weapons production capability.

The GWPC Risk Reduction Activity will see Australian involvement in the manufacture of GMLRS all-up rounds and Launch Pod Containers (LPCs).

The GMLRS is the primary armament of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which the Australian Army will acquire in 2025 to dramatically extend the reach of its artillery capabilities. HIMARS is a canister launch system integrated with a truck chassis capable of firing six GLMRS rockets.

HIMARS can also fire single rounds from the larger MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) or its successor Precision Strike missile (PrSM), for which the Australian Army is a development partner with the US Army.

Australia will acquire 42 HIMARS systems under the Army’s Project LAND 8113 Long Range Fires requirement.

READ ALSO Building a successful sovereign guided weapons industry will all come down to the details

The GLMRS has a range of at least 70 km, the ATACMS more than 200 km, and the PrSM more than 500 km. Future versions of PrSM are planned to have a seeker, allowing it to target moving ships at sea.

The GWEO Enterprise was announced by the former Coalition government in March 2021. Its goals were to establish a missile assembly and production capability in Australia to decrease the reliance on international supply chains in the event of a crisis, develop and upskill a local industrial capability, and increase the ADF’s inventory of missile rounds.

Announced in Canberra this morning (16 January), Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said that the contract with Lockheed Martin Australia is the first step towards establishing domestic missile manufacturing on a larger scale.

“This announcement delivers on the Albanese Government’s commitment to reprioritise Defence capabilities in line with the Defence Strategic Review, including developing the ADF’s ability to precisely strike targets at longer range,” he said.

He added that it will also facilitate the transfer of technical data from the US, establish processes for engineering certification, and begin to build the technical skills of an Australian workforce.

GLMRS rocket

The GLMRS is the primary armament of the HIMARS long-range artillery system the Australian Army is buying, and is an early target for a GWEO opportunity. Photo: US Army.

Mr Conroy also confirmed that Australia will also acquire the PrSM. The US Army has just declared an early operational capability with PrSM, but he didn’t specify how many would be acquired or when they would enter service.

“This important first step towards the establishment of domestic guided weapons manufacturing in Australia will complement the acquisition of long-range precision strike capabilities and strengthen the ADF’s ability to protect Australia and its interests.

“This work is a clear demonstration of the ongoing collaboration between Australia and the United States on Australia’s Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise – a key outcome of the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations in July 2023.”

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles added, “These are important milestones which will see Australia gain the technology we need to establish a sovereign industry, providing opportunities for a highly skilled workforce.”

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HiddenDragon8:35 pm 16 Jan 24

“Future versions of PrSM are planned to have a seeker, allowing it to target moving ships at sea.”

With today’s Iowa result underlining the risks of the US turning markedly isolationist and transactional in its defence and foreign policies this time next year, the acquisition of a potent, long range, Australian deterrent capability should be a high priority.

The ability to cripple a hostile naval battle group, anywhere in Melanesia, and even after a first strike against us, might be something to work towards for a country that takes itself seriously as a “middle power”.

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