Back in January 2021, the Australian Government announced an AUD $1 billion to commence the early development of advanced guided weapons to enhance Australia’s maritime security. As part of SEA 1300, Australia will continue its long-term investment and key contribution to the Evolved SEASPARROW Block 2 missile program, and commence investment in developing the Standard Missile 2 Block IIIC and the Standard Missile 6 Block 1, to meet Australia’s surface-to-air missile capability requirements.
The Government of Australia has now requested to buy defense services related to the future purchase of Standard Missile 6 Block I (SM-6) and Standard Missile 2 Block IIIC (SM-2 IIIC) missiles. These services include development; engineering, integration, and testing (EI&T); obsolescence engineering activities required to ensure readiness; U.S. Government and contractor engineering/technical assistance, and related studies and analysis support; technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of program and logistical support. The total estimated value is $350 million.
According to the US State Department notice, this proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific. Australia is strategically positioned to contribute significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability.
The proposed sale will support the readiness and future sale of vital anti-air warfare capability that can be deployed from Australia’s newest Hunter-class Destroyers equipped with the latest AEGIS Combat Systems. The purchase of Standard Missile 6 Block I (SM-6) and Standard Missile 2 Block IIIC (SM-2 IIIC) missiles is currently included in Australia’s procurement roadmap and will improve their ability to operate alongside U.S. and Allied naval forces against the full spectrum of naval threats. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing these defense services into its armed forces.
According to Raytheon, the RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM), or Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) is three missiles in one: It’s the only weapon that can perform anti-air warfare, ballistic missile defense and anti-surface warfare missions. The system offers navies more flexibility in limited ship space. The missile has an operational range up to 130 nmi (240 km) and a top speed of March 3.5.
SM-2 allows navies to defend against anti-ship missiles and aircraft. Raytheon and the U.S. Navy restarted the production line to meet global demand. The program invested in new equipment and improved manufacturing processes to increase efficiencies. The SM-2 Medium Range Block IIIC Active incorporates the active homing seeker of the SM-6 ERAM. The missile features active terminal guidance, has an operational range up to 90 nmi (167 km) and a top speed of Mach 3.5.
Both missiles are designed and produced by Raytheon Missiles and Defense (RMD) in Tucson, AZ.