An important but easily overlooked piece of Australia’s Army Land Project modernization has been Land Project 4100 Phase 2.
This is part of a broader series of efforts announced in September 2021 to field long-range precision strike weapons for not only the Royal Australian Air Force and Navy (SEA4100) which previously held such capability but for the Army as well.
Under Project Land 8113 the land forces had pursued acquiring the US Lockheed-Martin M142 truck mounted HIMARS which can currently address ground targets to 100 km with the GLMRS rocket and 300 km with precision accuracy using ATACMS. The country is also a cooperative partner in the US Army Precision Strike Missile (PrSM).
However, neither of these systems can strike maneuvering ships. Land Project 4100 Phase 2 is to acquire this capability, thus, allowing ground forces to interdict and destroy maritime surface threats. A mobile ground based anti-ship capability offers specific advantages in that they can be deployed to key areas, be easily concealed and would be able to engage and relocate enhancing their survivability and effectiveness.
Although a formal tender process has not yet been initiated some companies have potential solutions and could have interest. The government has programed around $500 million for the acquisition. The objective is to find a “low-risk” supportable solution.
A local in-county team of Thales Australia and Kongsberg are attempting to establish a favorable position for their candidate early on. The companies have jointed to independently develop the StrikeMaster. The system combines the proven and in Army service Bushmaster protected 4 X 4 vehicle with the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM). The team unveiled a demonstrator of the StrikeMaster at the Land Forces 2022 exhibition in Brisbane in early October. The system which has two containerized launchers would be domestically produced in country.
A factor that supports the StrikeMaster offer is the July 2022 announcement by the Royal Australian Navy of its selection of the NSM to replace the Harpoon anti-ship missile on its surface combatants with fielding in 2024. In fact, Kongsberg indicates that the Launch Mission Module being used shipboard is adaptable to StrikeMaster. The NSM is in service with nine countries including the US, Japan, Malaysia, and Canada. The missile has a range of over 185 km and is compatible for both ground and ship launch. An air-launched NSM version is also being considered by the RAAF for its F-35A Lighting II.
Lockheed-Martin is proposing its AGM-184C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile – Surface Launched (LRASM-SL) which it suggests launching from the HIMARS. It is derived from the AGM-158 in development for F/A-18 aircraft and has been ordered by the RAAF for 2026 introduction. initially but which could be used from other platforms. It has a range of over 370 km.
The projected timetable for Land Project 4100 Phase 2 initiation remains unclear, however, it is evident that minimizing risk is a primary consideration.
by Stephen W. Miller