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Rheinmetall has won a contract from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) for its Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS), the company announced on 5 May 2023.

The system will initially be used to equip the RAN’s Hobart-class destroyers and Anzac-class frigates, with the first systems to be delivered by the end of 2023 and full operational capability to be achieved by 2027.

The order, worth EUR 125 M, is the Group’s single-biggest order ever for ship protection technology. Total sales could ultimately be worth around EUR 610 M if a contract option is taken up equip the entire RAN fleet.

“The order underscores once again the great effectiveness of MASS,” Martin Fegg, product manager for soft-kill protection systems at Rheinmetall Waffe Munition, was quoted as saying in a company press release. “Australia is now the 16th user nation. We continue to work closely with our colleagues at Rheinmetall Defence Australia, who are responsible for production in country. The largest possible share of value added will thus be generated in Australia: a major plus for the customer.”

Because the contract includes the transfer of MASS technology, Rheinmetall Defence Australia will be able to produce the systems under licence before installing and commissioning them on board the RAN’s seagoing surface combatants.

The MASS systems ordered by the RAN will be assembled at Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Ipswich, Queensland.

“This will result in new possibilities for expanding the Group’s Australian supply chain,” Rheinmetall stated. “MASS offers potential partners in the Australian defence sector the chance to co-operate with Rheinmetall and the Royal Australian Navy in realising this important defensive capability.”

“The contract – the first naval contract awarded to Rheinmetall Defence Australia – represents a significant milestone as the company grows its local industrial footprint with further advanced assembly and training system capabilities in Australia”, noted Nathan Poyner, managing director of Rheinmetall Defence Australia. “Rheinmetall is committed to building Australian industry capability and creating advanced manufacturing Australian jobs in trades including mechanical, electrical, ammunition and software.

MASS protects surface vessels from various missile threats by connecting to the vessels’ sensors and launching decoys that operate in all relevant wavelengths to lure away the theat. (Photo: Rheinmetall)

“Our partnership with the Royal Australian Navy is a key element of our long-term investment in Australia’s Defence capability, and we are proud to be part of the Australian Government’s work to develop a robust, sustainable, and globally competitive defence industry,” Poyner added.

The MASS system protects surface vessels from various threats from anti-ship missiles and laser-guided weapons, whether offshore or on inland waterways, by connecting to their sensors and launching decoys that operate in all relevant wavelengths to lure away the theat.

“Offering unique protection against modern sensor-guided missiles in all relevant wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, MASS can be installed on vessels of all sizes and readily integrated into existing shipboard command and weapon engagement systems or operate as a standalone system,” Rheinmetall explained. “In the standard version MASS consists of up to six trainable launchers, each of which can fire up to 32 Omni Trap decoy munitions.”

Peter Felstead