Australia’s Short Range Air Defense System Completes Field Trials


With the recent successful completion of flight-testing by contractor Raytheon Australia the Australian Army appears to be one step closer to meeting the scheduled initial operational capability fielding of its Short-Range Ground Based Air Defense (SRGBAD) system.

Launched under the military’s LAND 19 Phase 7B in 2017 the program will provide the ground-based component of the country’s Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense (JIAMD). The system will be replacing the Army’s current Short-Range Air Defense (SHORAD) capabilities. It will be able to operate both independently ground forces, particularly expeditionary units, and integrated with the broader JIAMD with is included in the AIR 6500 project. SRGBAD is to begin operational fielding with the Army with the goal of achieving initial operating capability (IOC) in mid-2023.

LAND 19 Phase 7B includes acquisition of new radar, missile launchers and command & control systems and their integration with existing Army vehicles and communications systems. Australia selected the Kongsberg/Raytheon developed National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) for the program.

NASAMS employs modified combat proven AIM-9X and AMRAMM (air-to-air) missiles with the latest version also compatible with the IRIS-T SLR. These offer effective engagement ranges of 34 km and 161 km respectively providing a short to medium range capability against fixed and rotary wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and cruise missiles. Australia’s system will utilize the Canberra-based CEA Technologies’ Active Scanning Electronic Array (AESA) radars.

The radar and missile launchers are carried on either the Thales Hawkei PMV vehicle in a high-mobility version or using the MK II canister launcher deployed from a HX77 heavy truck. The MAN/Rheinmetall HX77 6 X 6 is also used for the Fire Distribution Center shelter. The Australian system also utilizes the Raytheon AN/AAS-52 Multi-spectral Targeting System with high resolution day/night imagers and integrated laser rangefinder.

The SRGBAD program is valued at A$2.5 billion with a significant share of the effort being sourced within Australia. The first delivery of launchers occurred in 2022. Kongsberg Defense Australia passed factory acceptance tests of the first two Fire Distribution Centers (FDC1 and FDC2) for the Army in September 2022. The production, rollout, and qualification of battery components, as well as operator training and establishment of fielding support continues.

The 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, will be the first operational unit to receive SRGBAD system which is anticipated for May. Its members got their first look at NASAMS during a trial and certification in April 2023 near Jervis Bay. The regiment is expected to field two batteries each with three troops. Troops will consist of an FDC, a CEATAC radar, an MTS-A Optronic Sensor vehicle, and 3-4 launchers. The 110th Battery will be the first unit to be fitted out with NASAMS.  A full operational capability is planned to be reached by 2026.

by Stephen W. Miller