Live updates: Australia signs $680mn deal for advanced missile defence systems

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A US-made M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as Himars, is deployed during military exercises near Skede, Latvia © Gints Ivuškāns/AFP/Getty Images

The Australian government said on Thursday it would spend more than A$1bn (US$680mn) on advanced missile defences, including the US-made Himars system that has proved successful in defending Ukraine from Russian invasion.

The Himars package, which includes launchers, missiles and training rockets, will provide the Australian army with a “significant capability boost”, said Richard Marles, the country’s defence minister.

CEA, an Australian company, will provide a radar system to be integrated with the Himars launchers, he added.

The US state department said in May that it had approved the sale of Lockheed Martin’s M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers and related equipment for an estimated US$385mn.

The system is expected to be deployed in Australia in 2026-2027.

“In the current strategic environment, it’s important the Australian Defence Force is equipped with high-end, targeted military capabilities,” Marles said.

The Himars announcement comes a day after Canberra signed a deal with Norwegian group Kongsberg to supply naval missiles for Australian destroyers and frigates from 2024.

Australia in recent years has taken a more high-profile defence posture, with the previous conservative government increasing military spending and signing a trilateral security pact with the US and UK in 2021.

Last month, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said after a meeting with Marles that Washington would “deepen our defence co-operation” with Canberra.

Austin said the US plans to deploy more fighters, bombers and other assets in Australia in the face of “dangerous and coercive” Chinese actions in the Indo-Pacific region.

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