Missile launcher a game-changer

After waiting years for a glimpse of Army’s newest air-defence system, 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, gunners got their first look at the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) during a trial and certification activity last month near Jervis Bay.

Air defenders were invited to get hands-on with the equipment during the activity, which was designed to test system components before the regiment takes initial delivery this month.

Qualification training is set to start soon after.

Lance-Bombardier Mitchell North, of 110th Battery, will be among the first soldiers qualified.

“We’ve been waiting for NASAMS for quite some time, so it’s good to finally see the equipment and get it going,” Lance-Bombardier North said.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the first missile live-fire, but even just doing the tests, getting it slewing and opening the missile-bay doors was really cool to watch.”

NASAMS is used by more than a dozen militaries, including the US and Ukraine.

Army will operate an enhanced version of the Norwegian design, which includes Australian radar technology, a Hawkei-based launcher and infrared/optical sensor.

A mixture of AMRAAM or Sidewinder missiles can be loaded on a Hawkei high-mobility launcher; or MK II canister launcher, deployed from a HX77 heavy truck enabling mission flexibility with up to six missiles carried per platform.

Each troop will operate three canister or high-mobility launchers and 110th Battery will be the first kitted out with NASAMS.

The regiment is expected to field two batteries once full operational capability is reached by 2026.

Commander 110th Battery Major Brett Watson said 16th Regiment was entering a new chapter.

“The introduction into service of NASAMS represents a step change in ground-based air defence capability for the ADF, providing the ability to sense and effect at much greater ranges with state-of-the-art equipment,” Major Watson said.

“The whole team is very excited about this journey.

“This familiarisation activity is about allowing those conducting the initial training to learn more about the equipment and interact with the CASG and Defence Industry teams – it was a very valuable trip.”

16th Regiment will relocate from Woodside Barracks to new purpose-built facilities at RAAF Edinburgh once construction is complete.

NASAMS is capable of operating independently, but will also be integrated with joint air-defence under the future Project AIR 6500, which will synchronise capabilities to provide layered air defence.

Defence image: Australian Army soldier Sergeant Benjamin Grout, from 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) training team, guides the NASAMS Mk II Canister Launcher into position during a trial and certification activity at the Beecroft Weapons Range, NSW.

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