HIMARS- The way ahead for Australian Artillery
The Australian Defence Force is set to embark on a transformative journey as gunners prepare to undergo training in the United States for the nation’s new High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) regiment. This initiative marks a significant development in Australia’s defence capabilities and underscores the strategic importance of investing in cutting-edge artillery technology.
Scheduled to commence next year, the training program will take place at the prestigious US Artillery School in Oklahoma, providing Australian gunners with an immersive and comprehensive learning experience. The focal point of this endeavour is the establishment of the inaugural HIMARS unit, known as the 14 Regiment, stationed at Puckapunyal in central Victoria.
The 14 Regiment will serve as the launchpad for Australia’s HIMARS capabilities, with the first of 20 recently procured HIMARS units expected to be delivered in 2025. The initial deployment will involve one troop of four HIMARS, primarily dedicated to operational tasks, while the remaining units will be utilized for training, maintenance, and certification purposes. Plans are in place to expand the HIMARS battery to three troops by 2027, further enhancing Australia’s artillery capabilities.
Gunner Izaiah Roch of the Royal Australian Artillery 8th/12th Regiment expressed his enthusiasm for the introduction of HIMARS, citing the novelty of the system within the Australian Army as a motivating factor. Roch, who aspires to join a HIMARS troop, highlighted the allure of exploring new technologies in his artillery career. “The fact that it’s new and no one in the Army has used it before gives me the drive to stay in artillery,” said Gunner Roch. “It might not be the be-all and end-all, but it’s good knowing there is more to explore in the job.”
The recent Exercise Talisman Sabre provided Australian troops with a firsthand look at American HIMARS and Korean K9 Thunder vehicles, offering them an opportunity to engage with current operators. Specialist Juan Jimanez of the American 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Battalion, emphasized the excitement surrounding HIMARS, noting its impact on morale. “I was cool with being a rocket man. When the Australians ask me what job I do, I tell them I’m HIMARS and their eyes light up,” said Specialist Jimanez. “It’s good for you guys to see how we operate and shoot. It gets the excitement going, so when you do get them, it’s like, ‘Alright, let’s go play’.”
A notable achievement during this transition to HIMARS was the successful launch conducted at the Lancelin Defence Training Area in Western Australia. The operation demonstrated the system’s prowess by effectively prosecuting a maritime target using advanced integrated targeting technology, showcasing the formidable capabilities that the HIMARS regiment brings to Australia’s defence arsenal.
As Australia ventures into this new era of artillery technology, the integration of HIMARS into its defence infrastructure represents a strategic move towards modernization, providing enhanced capabilities and bolstering the nation’s preparedness for contemporary security challenges.