The US State Department has approved the sale of Long Range Anti-Ship missiles along with training and support equipment to Australia. The sale worth $900 million will help Australia replace the American made Harpoon missiles which were from the Cold war era.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Friday that the State Department had notified the Congress of the possible sale involving 200 AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM).
The DSCA said in a statement that in addition to this there are possibilities that Australia will acquire "DATM-158C LRASM, Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM-158C LRASM), containers, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor representatives technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support."
A project to move close to the Asia Pacific
Ths statement by the DSCA mentioned that the ongoing project will support the 'foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States'. There is a need for the US to show its presence in the Asia Pacific amid the loss of one of their key agreement with the Philippines.
The equipment was made for the ship targets of the Air Force and the Navy in the US. The system is based on air-launched AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). It was developed for the fleet in the Pacific region. It can be operated under a situation where long-range intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities cannot function to its full capability.
Australia will be using the equipment with their F-18 aircraft. This is said to be Australia's first purchase of missiles. The country hopes to build its maritime partnership and capabilities through the acquisition of new equipment.
Australia hasn't invested in strike capabilities and the 2016 white paper had mentioned the need for better equipment. The stealthy LRASM can be able to tackle the important issue at sea once in action. It can be perceived as a countering system against the Chinese and Russian fleets in the region which has anti-ship missiles with a long-range in the region. This is a strategic change for Australia in the region but most importantly for America as well.