For various reasons, the Australian armed forces do not have a developed air defense system, which leads to known risks. The command is aware of this problem and is taking the necessary action. As part of a major army modernization program, it is planned to purchase a sufficient number of new anti-aircraft missile systems that can provide an acceptable level of protection for facilities and troops. As the basis for the air defense of the future, the NASAMS 2 anti-aircraft complex of foreign development was chosen. However, he must undergo significant changes.
According to known data, at the moment the air defense in the Australian ground forces is represented only by the Swedish-made RBS-70 portable anti-aircraft missile systems. Taking advantage of the country's geographic location, the Australian Armed Forces assigns the task of protecting the airspace to fighter aircraft, which reduces the priority of ground systems. Nevertheless, the new program for the modernization of the army provides for a radical update and strengthening of the ground air defense.
One of the versions of the NASAMS 2 launcher. Photo by Wikimedia Commons
Several years ago, a tender was organized, the purpose of which was to purchase a modern short-range air defense system for military air defense. The only bidder was Raytheon Australia, the Australian arm of the American defense corporation. Her proposal included the supply of NASAMS 2 anti-aircraft systems, developed in the framework of cooperation between Raytheon and Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace (Norway).
On April 10, 2017, the Australian command formally approved the offer from Raytheon and accepted it for implementation. At that time, the approximate volume of purchases, the cost of the program and the future place of service of the new air defense systems had already been determined. At the same time, it was about the purchase of NASAMS 2 complexes not in the basic configuration, but in an updated version. Australia makes new demands on them in terms of equipment, weapons, etc.
In the basic version of the NASAMS 2 air defense system (Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System - "Norwegian advanced surface-to-air system" or National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System - "National improved system") trailers or car chassis, while ensuring compatibility with a wide range of existing platforms. As a means of destruction of the target, the complex uses American-made AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, adapted for launch from a ground installation.
The Australian army put forward its own requirements, which led to the development of a new modification of the air defense system, which has significant differences from the basic version. The customer wished to place all the components of the complex on self-produced automobile chassis. It was also necessary to introduce a new radar station into the complex and expand the range of guided missiles.
NASAMS 2 of the Finnish Army. The launcher is mounted on the Sisu E13P chassis. Photo Wikimedia Commons
The contractor was given 18 months to carry out design work and prepare prototypes. Thus, tests can begin as early as October this year. According to known data, such customer requirements are close to being fulfilled. For example, a few days ago, the public was first shown a self-propelled radar of its own Australian design. An experimental launcher is expected to appear in the near future.
As a platform for all means of the "Australian" NASAMS 2 air defense system, the Hawkei PMV armored car, recently delivered to the series by Thales Australia, was chosen. This vehicle, in its basic configuration, has a hull that complies with STANAG 4569 level 1 and protects the crew only from small caliber bullets and light shrapnel. Diesel engine with 270 hp is used. and an automatic transmission providing four-wheel drive. With a curb weight of 7 tons, the armored car can carry additional equipment and a load with a total weight of up to 3 tons.
Various elements of the NASAMS 2 complex are proposed to be installed on the rear cargo area of armored cars. First of all, this approach will be used in the construction of self-propelled radars and launchers. All complex control equipment and operator consoles, in turn, should be located inside the habitable compartments. The exact composition of the air defense system has not yet been specified, but, most likely, the designers will be able to place all the elements of the complex on just two machines, which will simplify its operation while maintaining the basic capabilities.
The NASAMS 2 SAM launcher is quite simple. On the platform with a part of the necessary equipment, a rotary support device and lifting mechanisms for the installation of transport and launch containers are placed. In the basic version, such an installation carries six containers with missiles. The basic platform with the equipment can be installed on trucks or equipped with its own wheel drive. The towed version of the installation is equipped with jacks for leveling in position.
Before being mounted on an Australian armored car, the launcher may undergo some changes. Thus, it is possible to dispense with the platform, the slewing ring can be mounted directly on the cargo area of the vehicle. The necessary equipment can be placed within the armored hull. What will be the ammunition for the installation based on the Hawkei PMV - has not yet been specified. It is possible to reduce the number of TPK and missiles due to limitations on the transverse dimensions.
Prototype radar CEATAC. Photo Adbr.com.au
The Australian Army did not want to buy the existing radar stations already part of the NASAMS 2 complex. Instead, it ordered the domestic company CEA Technologies to develop new equipment. As in the case of the launcher, the radar should be based on a new armored car. On September 5, within the framework of the Land Forces 2018 exhibition, the first demonstration of an experimental radar of a new type took place. It is noteworthy that the detection tool from the new complex was shown to the public before the launcher.
According to official data, when creating a radar of the CEATAC (CEA Tactical) type, the main developments were used on the CEAFAR ship station, which has an active phased antenna array. At the same time, new devices based on gallium nitride are used in the antenna design. In addition, for obvious reasons, the new radar differs from the existing one in smaller dimensions and a different architecture.
On the cargo platform of the Hawkei PMV-type carrier vehicle, a box-shaped body with an opening in the upper and stern sheets was installed. An antenna device with a casing of complex multifaceted shape is transported inside such a housing. In the transport position, it descends into the body; before work - rises above him. All the necessary equipment is installed inside such a module. Radar control facilities are located in the cockpit of the armored car.
The development of the CEAOPS station has also been announced. It will differ from the existing CEATAC by a greater target detection range. Such a station is supposed to be included in a promising medium-range air defense system. In addition, the possibility of using CEAOPS together with the NASAMS 2 complex is not excluded.
The NASAMS 2 complex initially uses medium-range guided missiles of the AIM-120 AMRAAM family. These products were created as weapons for fighter aircraft, but as part of NASAMS projects, they were adapted for use on land-based air defense systems. The need to take off from a ground installation and reach the target height leads to a serious reduction in the firing range. So, in the air-to-air configuration, the latest modifications of the AIM-120 are capable of flying 150-180 km, and for the NASAMS 2 complex, the range does not exceed 20-25 km and directly depends on the type of missile.
Radar equipment container. Photo Janes.com
The technical task of the Australian army provides for equipping the complex with a second type of missile. AMRAAM products are planned to be supplemented with AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range missiles, modified accordingly. Since such missiles are equipped with an infrared homing head, the complex requires optoelectronic observation and detection equipment. Judging by the latest reports, such means will not be installed on the same platform with the radar.
In April last year, it was reported that contractors would have 18 months to develop a new version of the NASAMS 2 project and build an experimental complex. Thus, in the coming months, Raytheon Austalia will have to send all the required equipment to the landfill. According to current plans, the testing of the complex will take about a year. In mid-2019, the Australian army plans to draw final conclusions and, upon successful completion of the work, sign a contract for the supply of serial equipment.
The first air defense systems of a new type, which can be considered a joint development of three countries at once, will enter the troops at the beginning of the next decade. They are planned to be transferred to the 16th Ground Air Defense Regiment, which currently operates RBS-70 products. Initial operational readiness is planned for 2023. Full combat capability will be achieved in the middle of the decade.
The complete set of serial complexes is still unknown, and it is quite possible that the customer has not yet decided on it. In all likelihood, the troops will use anti-aircraft batteries, which will include a radar station, a command post and several self-propelled launchers. It is known that the Australian army is considering the possibility of building both self-propelled and towed components of the air defense system.
Shooting SAM NASAMS 2. Photo by the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands / defensie.nl
The number of anti-aircraft systems planned for the purchase has not yet been specified. However, as early as last year, approximate costs for the entire program were announced. It is planned to spend about 2-2.5 billion Australian dollars (1.5-2 billion US dollars) for the purchase of NASAMS 2 systems, as well as for service support for a certain time. Probably, we will talk about the purchase of a sufficiently large number of complexes and missiles for them.
It should be recalled that the NASAMS complexes were originally developed for the Norwegian army, but later they were able to enter the international market. Similarly, the fate of NASAMS 2 for Australia, or at least some of its components, may develop. So, the CEATAC radar station is being created by order of the Australian army, and will initially be produced in its interests. At the same time, CEA Technologies plans to offer this product to foreign customers in need of lightweight, compact and effective means of tracking the air situation.
It is quite possible that Raytheon, Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace and CEA Technologies will continue their cooperation, as a result of which several variants of NASAMS 2 air defense systems will appear on the international arms market at once. They will differ in the composition of components, which will allow a potential buyer to choose the version that is most convenient for him. However, before launching a new product on the market, it is necessary to carry out all the required tests and receive an order from your own army.
Australia does not have a developed land air defense system, but is taking steps to create one. A promising short-range air defense system, which is a redesigned version of an existing system, should be tested in the near future. Next year, it is planned to start testing another anti-aircraft complex capable of attacking targets at medium ranges. The real rearmament of Australia's air defense units will begin only in the next decade, but active work is already underway. This means that new reports on the progress of Australian projects will appear very soon.