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Australia fast-tracks NSM Block 1A for RAN surface fleet

Australia wants to integrate Kongsberg's Naval Strike Missile Block 1A onto its Anzac-class frigates and Hobart-class destroyers from 2024. (Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace)

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) is to fast-track the acquisition of the latest-variant Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA) Naval Strike Missile (NSM) Block 1A to replace the in-service RGM-84 Harpoon Block II anti-ship missile on the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) Anzac-class frigates and Hobart-class destroyers.

The Harpoon replacement is part of a AUD3.5 billion (USD2.61 billion) accelerated improved weapon capabilities package for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) announced by the DoD on 5 April. It includes the AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and an undisclosed maritime mine capability to secure Australia's sea ports and maritime approaches.

“With Australia's strategic environment becoming more complex and challenging, our ADF must be able to hold potential adversary forces and infrastructure at risk from a greater distance,” Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said. “These world-class strike weapon systems will equip our forces to better protect Australia's maritime approaches and when necessary, contribute to coalition operations in our region.”

The DoD said the acquisition of NSM Block 1A will more than double the maritime strike range of the RAN's surface fleet with the RGM-84 Harpoon Block II, which has an unclassified range of 124 km.

The NSM Block 1A's selection as the preferred solution to replace Harpoon will deliver the new-generation long-range maritime strike segment of RAN's Project Sea 1300. Established under the 2020 Force Structure Plan to consolidate development, management, and governance of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) guided weapons, Sea 1300 aligns with a broad cluster of RAN combat capability strands to be funded under a AUD24 billion 20-year investment programme announced in January 2021.

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