This week, Kongsberg Defence Australia (KDAu) and Thales Defence introduced the new launcher configuration for the proven Naval Strike Missile Coastal Defence System – called StrikeMaster – at the LAND FORCES International Land Defence Exposition. The StrikeMaster is a demonstration of great collaboration and is a perfect example of Australian Defence Industry leaning forward to provide realistic and meaningful solutions for their National defence. The launch of this land-based maritime strike capability, the StrikeMaster, will provide the Australian Defence Forces with greater critical mass and deployable combat power that aligns with Australia’s defence strategy.
The team is proposing to fit the Bushmaster ‘ute’ with a twin-pack launcher for the 400kg Kongsberg Block 1A Naval Strike Missile (NSM) as a low-risk solution to the Australian Army’s Land 4100 Phase 2 land-based anti-ship missile (ASM) requirement. In an exclusive briefing to DTR about the new system, KDAu General Manager John Fry said that the new launcher configuration for the proven NSM Coastal Defence System – called StrikeMaster – was flowed through Army Headquarters late last year to gauge interest in the CONOPS (concept of operations) and its capability. It’s the way the US Marine Corps (USMC) has gone and this Australian configuration allows us to align very much with their CONOPS.
Each NSM on the StrikeMaster launcher comes already integrated into its own canister or Launch Missile Module (LMM). The missile is stored, transported and fired from the LMM, which is effectively a factory-sealed unit. Reloading a launcher vehicle with missiles requires the complete spent LMM to be swapped out with a loaded one. Each loaded LMM weighs approximately 900kg and the total weight of the twin-pack launcher just under 3,000kg. The LMM is identical for both ship deck launch and vehicle launch. A complete NSM Coastal Defence System sub-unit would likely comprise three StrikeMaster missile launcher vehicles, an FDC vehicle, missile resupply vehicle and an optional radar vehicle.
The StrikeMaster launcher would also bring the advantage of being of a modest size that would be readily concealable under tree canopies but difficult to find, fix and destroy. Land-based ASM systems like the NSM Coastal Defence System also provide the Army with greater critical mass and deployable combat power that aligns with Australia’s maturing defence strategy for the Indo-Pacific and the concept of joint operations. Unlike the USMC NMESIS (Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System) that makes use of an unmanned Joint Light Tactical Vehicle with the cab removed in order to accommodate the NSM launch canisters, the StrikeMaster launcher retains the Bushmaster’s two-man cab that accommodates the driver and vehicle commander.