Australia signs agreement to produce GMLRS missiles from 2025

Australia to begin production of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) missiles in 2025, government says statement from January 16, 2024.

Under a A$37.4 million ($24.68 million) contract, Lockheed Martin Australia will produce the first batch of missiles in the Commonwealth – a step towards the Albanian government’s commitment to promote a dominant defense industry outlined in Defense Strategic Review.

Essentially, this contract also facilitates the transfer of technical data from the US to establish processes for engineering certification and start developing the technical skills of an Australian workforce.

Leading intelligence consultancy GlobalData notes two key drivers behind Australia’s defense strategy: new platform acquisitions and the ability to build them domestically.

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From GlobalData

Strategic priorities are focused on preventing potential conflict with China, a major military power, in the immediate Indo-Pacific region. Future investments in hypersonic research and ballistic missile defense will enable long-range deterrence.

Unfortunately, the Australian defense industry lacks the specific technical expertise required for jobs, which creates a barrier to defense development in areas such as shipbuilding and cyber security. For this reason, the government relies heavily on significant industrial support from others, such as the US and the UK, under the AUKUS agreement, in addition to other ad hoc cases.

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The GMLRS belongs to the MLRS family of munitions developed by Lockheed Martin. The missile is an easily deployable, precision-guided surface-to-surface missile measuring 3.93 meters (m) in length and 0.22 meters in width. It is also compatible with the High Mobility Missile System (HIMARS) air defense launchers, which reach distances in excess of 70 kilometers.

The Australian Defense Force does not currently operate the HIMARS system, although the government has plans to procure the system in a deal worth $134.1 million over the next ten years, according to GlobalData intelligence.

“These are important milestones that will see Australia acquire the technology we need to create a dominant industry, providing opportunities for a highly skilled workforce,” he said.

The government will also acquire Precision Strike Missiles (PrSM), which can engage targets up to 500 km. PrSM and GMLRS missiles can be launched from HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Missile System) launchers.

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