In order to imperil an adversary in Australia’s area of interest, the ADF will need a diverse array of missiles for long range strike, as well as for air combat, sea defence, land strike and more.
For that Australia needs to hold sufficient stocks of guided weapons and munitions, with the ability to manufacture certain lines, the Defence Strategic Review (DSR) says.
The government has moved quickly.
Just two days after the release of the DSR, Defence Minister Richard Marles has announced plans to accelerate acquisition of additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) beyond the 20 now on order, plus 500-kilometre range Precision Strike Missiles (PrSM) (as seen in the story released earlier today).
As well, the government will invest $2.5 billion in the Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) Enterprise to stand up domestic manufacture of selected long-range strike missiles and other munitions including 155mm artillery ammunition and sea mines; and Defence will acquire additional stocks of precision guided munitions.
This all falls under what the DSR terms accelerated preparedness, fundamental to enhancing warfighting capability and self-reliance.
Recognition of the need to boost missile inventory isn’t new. In March 2021, the former coalition government launched what is now GWEO, with a brief to increase stocks, improve storage and maintenance and, ultimately to facilitate domestic manufacture.
The problem is that the earliest domestic manufacture is still perhaps three years away (Spike ATGM) and major missile suppliers, mostly in the US, are flat strap supplying Ukraine and replenishing US military stocks.
The DSR said the GWEO Enterprise lacked financial resources, the required workforce and a strategy.
Their recommendation: appoint a senior officer to lead the GWEO Enterprise, with an appropriate underpinning organisational structure.
“The immediate focus must be on consolidating ADF GWEO needs, the establishment of a domestic manufacturing capability and the acceleration of foreign military and commercial sales,” it said.