The US State Department has approved the provision of defence services to Australia related to the future purchase of Raytheon's SM-6 Block I and SM-2 Block IIIC missiles for the Hunter class frigates.
Raytheon’s SM-2 Block IIICs will replace RAN's current stock of Block IIIB missiles. The SM-6 Block I is a longer-range air defence weapon that can also be used as an anti-ship weapon and may in the future provide a ballistic missile defence capability, which would require a Baseline 9 configuration for the Aegis combat system on board the Hunter class.
The services include 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.
The total estimated value is US$350 million (A$481 million).
In a statement, the US State Department said: "The purchase of SM-6 and SM-2 IIIC missiles is currently included in Australia’s procurement roadmap and will improve their ability to operate alongside US and allied naval forces against the full spectrum of naval threats."
In January this year, former Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds re-announced the acquisition of the SM 2 Block IIIC and SM 6 Block I that was originally forecast in the Defence Strategy Update and Force Structure Plan released in July 2020.
The FSP allocates up to $24 billion in total for maritime guided weapons, which fall under the umbrella of Project Sea 1300 Phase 1 (Navy Guided Weapons).