7 June 2024

Naval Strike Missile enters Navy service

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Bel Felton from Australian Defence Magazine first spotted the new NSM cannisters onboard HMAS Sydney III when the ship returned to Sydney in late May. Photo: ADF.

The Royal Australian Navy’s latest anti-ship strike weapon has entered service the Chief of Navy has told Senate Estimates.

In testimony before the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee on 5 June, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond confirmed that several Anzac-class and Hobart-class ships had been equipped with the new KONGSBERG Naval Strike Missile (NSM).

“This year we have fitted Naval Strike Missile to the fleet, not all vessels, but we have commenced that activity,” he said.

The NSM will join the longer-range Tomahawk cruise missile as the Navy’s main strike weapons when the latter enters service later this year.

READ ALSO Scaled-back Collins-class submarine Life Of Type Extension program approved

“By the end of this year, we’ll go from a legacy fleet in being with a maximum range weapon in the vicinity of 200 km, to the incorporation of the Tomahawk capability with a maximum range in excess of 2500 km,” VADM Hammond said.

The Tomahawk will also equip the Navy’s Virginia-class nuclear powered submarines when they enter service from 2032, but a 5 June announcement says a plan to integrate them with the current Collins-class as part of that submarine fleet’s Life-Of-Type Extension (LOTE) program has been cancelled as it was deemed to be unviable.

The NSM was selected under the Project SEA 1300 Phase 1 Naval Guided Weapons program in 2022 to replace the Navy’s ageing Harpoon anti-ship missile, and a contract with KONGSBERG was signed in January 2023.

Since then, the two quad-pack Harpoon cannisters have been replaced by new NSM cannisters on several ships, with trade publication Australian Defence Magazine first spotting new NSM cannisters on the midships deck of the Hobart-class destroyer HMAS Sydney as it returned to Sydney on 24 May.


A 2023 photo of HMAS Sydney shows the old Harpoon cannisters. Photo: ADF.

The NSM has about twice the range of the Harpoon, weighs about 400 kg, and has a composite low-observable shaped airframe and a multi-mode seeker. It is designed to fly at medium altitude towards the target before dropping to wave height and hitting the target just above the waterline.

The NSM is in naval service with Norway, the US, the UK, and Poland uses it as a coastal defence missile which can be fired from shore batteries.

KONGSBERG has also teamed with Thales Australia to offer the NSM in a Bushmaster protected military vehicle-mounted application – dubbed Strikemaster – for the Australian Army’s Project LAND 4100 Phase 2 land-based anti-ship missile requirement.

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