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Australia demonstrates long-range maritime strike capabilities in combined HIMARS firing

A US Army HIMARS launcher from the 17th Field Artillery Brigade fires its first salvo at the Lancelin Defence Training Area in Western Australia as part of Exercise ‘Highball'. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the US Army have carried out a live firing of the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) against a maritime target in a bid to hone this capability for Australia.

The activity was carried out in Western Australia as part of Exercise ‘Highball', which was conducted by the ADF in conjunction with US Indo-Pacific Command. It was done to demonstrate the operational integration of various Australian assets that will be deployed in an operation involving the HIMARS.

The Canberra government disclosed in January 2023 that the country will acquire the HIMARS for the Australian Army. The set-up to be delivered will include a weapon-locating radar from Australian company CEA Technologies.

For the firing at Exercise ‘Highball', a US HIMARS platoon and their equipment were transported to Lancelin, Western Australia, via a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft.

Once in position, the launcher was fed with targeting data “that resulted in a direct hit on a small offshore target positioned beyond visual range in the Western Australia Exercise Area”, said the Department of Defence (DoD) in a statement released on 15 August.

Janes has contacted the DoD for further details on the target, the assets deployed, and information on how the targeting data were obtained, but has yet to receive a reply on this.

The HIMARS is a Lockheed Martin-developed precision fires system that can be configured with either the six-pack Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) or a single MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) package.

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