Australia buys Ukraine-tested US missile system

This photo shows the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) firing during the Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) as part of the annual naval exercises between the Philippine Marine Corps and US Marine Corps at Capas, Tarlac province on October 13, 2022. Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP

Sydney, Australia -- Australia said Thursday it has snapped up a US offer to obtain the same long-range, mobile rocket system Ukraine has deployed on the battlefield against invading Russian forces.

The government said the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) would deter attacks on Australia but could also be transported by plane for deployment worldwide.

"The effectiveness of the HIMARS system in the Ukraine conflict has certainly influenced the government's decision," Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy told public broadcaster ABC.

The government acted quickly to order the missiles to secure its place in the queue given a "massive increase" in global demand for HIMARS, Conroy said.

Australia hopes to deploy HIMARS, which includes launchers, missiles and training rockets, in 2026-2027, the government said.

The minister declined to give a price for the system, saying only that Australia would spend Aus$1-2 billion (US$680 million-1.4 billion) on HIMARS and a separately contracted weapon, the Naval Strike Missile made by Norway-based Kongsberg, which is to equip its destroyers and frigates from 2024.

HIMARS would extend the Australian army's strike range from 30 kilometres (19 miles) to 300 km, and eventually to 500 km with a future precision-strike missile, Conroy said.

Asked whether the HIMARS would be deployed in the Pacific region, where China has growing military and diplomatic clout, the minister said the ease with which it could be transported anywhere in the world made it a "really fundamental asset".

© Agence France-Presse

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