Australia has fired its first army tactical missile system (ATACMS) on a red-dirt airfield in Delamere, Northern Territory, to demonstrate the capability for the country’s northern borders.
The ATACMS is an all-weather, inertially-guided surface-to-surface missile first used in the 1990s that can intercept high-value targets up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) away.
The weapon was launched as part of Talisman Sabre, a multinational military exercise led by Australia and the US.
It was fired from an M1423 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, flown from Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland on a US Air Force MC-130J Talon transport aircraft.
Joint fire observers and terminal attack controllers from the Royal Australian Regiment’s 101st Battery and 8th/12th Battalion and counterparts from the US Marine Rotation Force – Darwin were present during the demonstration.
Supporting a ‘New Period’
The long-range tactical precision missiles such as ATACMS tested in the event have a “big impact” on deterring adversaries, the Australian Department of Defence said.
These solutions benefit the service as it covers more mission profiles across Australia’s northern regions, including littoral operations.
Furthermore, integrating ATACMS aligns with the Australian Defence Strategic Review requirements to expand the government’s defense from potential enemies.
“The Army is entering a new period, and exercises like Talisman Sabre, where we work with our partners and new capabilities, only enhance the defence of Australia,” Australian Army 1st Brigade Commander Nick Foxall explained.
Long Range Strike Commander Maj. John Ronayne added: “This event represents how the alliance can employ and coordinate these types of systems across vast distances as part of a multi-domain strike capability.”
Combined With HIMARS
Defence Strategic Review recommendations also support Australia’s acquisition of a HIMARS fleet to complement the ATACMS, further bolstering the nation’s long-range firepower.
In January, the government awarded Lockheed Martin a $385-million contract to deliver 20 HIMARS starting in 2025.
“HIMARS enables a generational leap in capability for Australia, taking Defence from cannon artillery to Long-Range Precision Fires that provide a 24/7 persistent, all-weather capability,” Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Programs Director James Heading said.
“HIMARS offers the Australian Defence Force the ability to use and share common munitions and to integrate into a coalition effort.”