3-1: Long-Range Fires – Surface-to-Surface Rockets and Missiles

Long-Range Fires Objectives

The Defence Strategic Update (DSU) outlines the importance of long-range fires to ensuring the objective of “connected, protected, lethal and enabled” land forces. The Update outlines that “long-range lethality will be strengthened through additional long-range rocket systems” and ‘enhanced missile development.’[1] Currently there is no land-based long-range missile platform in ADF service. The ADF’s only long-range missile strike capability is the AGM-158 Joint Air-to Surface Strike Munition (JASSM) carried by the RAAF, which has a range out to 370 km.[2]

Long-Range Fires Systems

The AMP seeks to rectify this by acquiring a long-range strike missile capability. With the addition of sensors and co-ordination with the other services, Australia is creating what is known as an ‘anti-access and area-denial’ system (A2AD). This is of enormous significance for Army and shifts its place in the hierarchy of the nation’s defence. Dr Albert Palazzo in an Occasional Paper written for the Army notes that contemporary missiles are available with ranges in excess of 2,000 kilometres. The platforms are easily deployable or can be mounted on a ship.[3]

Army, through the RAA, will thus be actively engaging in ‘deep’ battle beyond the immediate tactical fight. This opens up a larger and extended range of targets. This will require a change to how the RAA finds, identifies, and track targets for passing on to long-range fire assets, and how command and control selects and chooses the priority of targets to engage.

One of the capabilities that the AMP is looking to reintroduce is weapon-locating radars. [4] Both the Protected Mobile Fires and Long Range Fires projects will re-introduce weapon locating radar capabilities in the RAA to support Land and Joint operations. These radars locate hostile artillery, mortars, and rocket launchers – as well as track friendly fire to locate the impact point of friendly artillery fire to provide necessary corrections. The radar is designed to detect projectiles with small cross-sections across the battlespace and can handle simultaneous fire from weapons deployed in multiple locations. This renewed capability will feed into the identification and tracking of targets for the command and control elements to prioritise, or for the observer to create targeting data.[5]

The examples below the LAND 8113 project summaries demonstrate that there is currently a range of proven artillery rocket systems that have been battle-tested by coalition partners. Australia may benefit from acquiring systems that are in a mature phase of their development, and ideally allow interoperability with allied countries. This will enhance Australia’s ability to influence and effect the ‘deep’ battle, adding to the ADF’s joint fires and effects options.

LAND 8113 Long Range Fires

This project will introduce a rocket and missile artillery capability to the preparedness system capable of engaging targets beyond 500km. The launcher system will be highly mobile, rapidly deployable, and be capable of incorporating technological updates in the future, such as robotics and automation. [6]

LAND 8113 Long Range Fires Future Phases (Including Enhanced Munitions)

This option seeks to provide a spiral munitions upgrade[7] for the long-range offensive support system selected under Land 8113. It will enhance the Joint Capability Effect of Land Control by providing accuracy and range enhancements. Options will also be considered to build on the size of the capability delivered under phase 1. [8]

United States of America: Lockheed Martin – High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)

The M142 HiMARS Rocket Launcher is a six-wheeled, protected, precision fire launcher that is operated by a 3-person crew from the cabin of the launcher vehicle. It is C-130 Hercules transportable and can be fitted with the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) which has 6 missiles able to fire out to 70km with the extended range version having a range of 150km.

High Mobility Artillery Rocket System

High Mobility Artillery Rocket System[10]

Alternatively, it can be configured with Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) systems, which has two missiles that have a range in excess of 500km. Currently Lockheed Martin have delivered more than 400 HIMARS launchers.[11]

Russian Federation: NPO Splav – 9A52-4 Tornado

NPO Splav – 9A52-4 Tornado

NPO Splav – 9A52-4 Tornado (courtesy Wikipedia) [12]

The 9A52-4 is an eight-wheeled, protected, multiple launch rocket system that has a range out to 90km. It is fitted with a single container of six 300mm rocket launching tubes. It can fire all current Smerch[13] rockets; including HE-FRAG, incendiary, fuel-air explosive, and cluster with anti-personnel or anti-tank mines. Cluster rounds may also carry self-targeting anti-tank munitions.

NPO Splav – 9A52-4 Tornado

NPO Splav – 9A52-4 Tornado[14]

A crew of two prepares the system for firing within 3 minutes, from the cabin. The launch vehicle is fitted with automated laying and fire control system. It is also fitted with an autonomous satellite navigation and positioning system. A launch vehicle exchanges positioning and firing data with a command vehicle and rockets can be launched directly from the cab, or remotely from the vehicle. The 9A52-4 can launch a single rocket, several of them, or a full salvo that has a duration of 20 seconds and be reloaded within 8 minutes.[15]

Federal Republic of Germany: Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) – MARS II


KMW MARS II (courtesy KMW) [16]

The Medium Artillery Rocket System (MARS) II is an armoured, tracked, multiple rocket-launcher, served by a crew of 3, which can achieve ranges greater than 70km. It has one rocket launcher with 12 tubes and can achieve a rate of fire of 12 rockets in 60 seconds.

MARS II is the upgraded version of the M270 MLRS which was jointly developed by the United Kingdom, United States, West Germany, France, and Italy in 1983. It has an electric laying system which enables rapid laying and reduces maintenance and repair effort compared to hydraulic systems. The MARS II can fire unguided rockets as well as UNITARY and SMArt precision rounds.[17]