The US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) has proved one of the standout weapons of the Ukraine conflict, delivering devastating precision fires on Russian positions, including munitions depots and command posts.
Australia is set to acquire HIMARS, maybe 20 launchers, though the government has yet to give the official go-ahead. With the growing desire for greater self-sufficiency, Australia may also seek to manufacture HIMARS missiles.
James Heading, Lockheed Martin Australia director of programs, strategic capabilities office for missiles and fire control, said there was active consideration around production of the missiles themselves, though not the launch vehicle.
“We are certainly trying to explore what Australian actually wants. Part of that resilience in the supply chain obviously goes straight to energetics,” he told reporters at the 2022 Land Forces Conference in Brisbane.
“The hardest thing to ship in any conflict are the energetics. We want to look at the rocket motors and the warheads. We already have the teaming agreement with Lockheed Martin and Thales.”
Heading said work was already under way on the rocket booster for the LRASM long range anti-ship missile.
“It’s all well and good to talk about rocket motors but what about the casings and the fins and the body and all sort of things. We are exploring to see what the capabilities and capacities are here in Australia.”
Heading said Australia was more than capable of producing the critical guidance system but that would depend on what technology the US government would allow to be released.
Early in the program, the Australian military discussed placing the rocket launcher aboard an in-service Australian vehicle rather than a US FMTV truck.
For reasons of cost, delivery time and integration risk, it was decided to stick with the US vehicle.
HIMARS is a wheeled vehicle with capability to carry and launch six GMLRS missiles, each with a range of 70 kilometres, or two PRSM missiles with a range of up to 499 kilometres or a single ATACMS missile with a range of 300 kilometres.