Days after details of the AUKUS deal were released, the US State Department has given the green light for the potential sale of Tomahawk cruise missiles to Australia.
The package would include up to 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles and supporting equipment with a total value of up to US$895 million (A$1.3 billion).
A release by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on March 16 confirmed Australia has requested to buy up to 200 Tomahawk Block V All Up Rounds and up to 20 Tomahawk Block IV All Up Rounds.
Also requested is support for all three segments of Australia’s Tomahawk Weapon System to include the All Up Round, the Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System and the Theatre Mission Planning Centre.
“Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific,” the DSCA release said. “The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region.
“It is vital to the US national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability.
“Australia will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.”
The weapons would initially be installed on the Royal Australian Navy’s Hobart-class destroyers. Australia first confirmed it would be procuring the missiles for the Hobart-class as part of the AUKUS announcement back in September 2021.
The Tomahawk cruise missile is a precision weapon that launches from ships and submarines and can strike targets precisely from more than 1600 kilometres away.
The Block IV Tactical Tomahawk has a data link that allows it to switch targets while in flight and can loiter for hours and change course instantly on command. The newer Tomahawk Block V series is modernised with upgraded navigation and communication.
Raytheon will be the prime contractor for the missiles.