Media Room | Reports and Publications | Careers and Recruiting | Industry and Contracts | Other Defence Links

Media Room: Media Releases

Department of Defence
Media Release

Defence
MEDIA RELEASE

 
03/10/2007 MECC 346/07
 
 
 
CPA 346/07

DEFENCE PURCHASES NEW ANTI-TANK ARTILLERY ROUND

The Department of Defence has finalised the acquisition of a new anti-tank artillery round.

This new artillery round will ensure that ADF troops can be protected against attack from modern armoured vehicles.  It replaces an existing but obsolescent capability, the Copperhead laser-guided 155mm artillery shell, which is at the end of its service life. 

The ‘SMArt 155’ artillery round is a sensor-fused precision munition that has been developed by the German firm, Gesellschaft für Intelligente Wirksysteme mbH (GIWS) for use against tanks and other armoured vehicles in all weather and terrain environments.  Each SMArt 155 artillery shell delivers two sensor-fused projectiles. 

The SMArt 155’s capacity for autonomous target detection makes it very accurate against specific targets.  It uses a range of sensors to detect a target and is designed to be effective against heavily armoured vehicles rather than personnel.  As a result, it poses little risk to non-combatant civilians. 

Independent, reliable and redundant self-destruction mechanisms are incorporated into the SMArt 155.  If a target is not detected, the SMArt 155 has redundant mechanisms that will cause it to self-destruct, thus eliminating the threat to civilians from explosive remnants of war.  In the unlikely event of the redundant self-destruct mechanisms not functioning as intended, a self neutralisation mechanism will render the projectile inert.

The acquisition of SMArt 155 is consistent with Australia’s obligations under international humanitarian law, and takes into account the Government’s commitment to avoid humanitarian hazards. 

The cost of acquisition is approximately A$14m.  The items being acquired include the SMArt155 projectile and the associated propelling charge, fuze, and inductive fuze setter.  Delivery is expected to commence in late 2007.

The SMArt 155 represents an important capability for Defence, and its acquisition is in keeping with the Government’s goal of maintaining a modern, technologically advanced Defence Force.

There is more information contained the Q&A and Fact Sheet, located here: http://www.defence.gov.au/media/index.cfm

Media contact: Defence Media Liaison (02) 6265 3343 or (0408) 498 664

For a free subscription to Defence Direct, the Minister for Defence’s monthly e-newsletter, please follow this link:
http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/defencedirect/spt/subscribe.html

Q&A – SMArt 155

Isn’t this a cluster munition? 

In our view, the SMArt 155 is not a “cluster munition” like those that have attracted recent international and domestic concern. 

Australia supports a ban on cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.  These cluster munitions are inaccurate and indiscriminate, and usually include a large number of small, low-yield, “dumb” bomblets.  Such cluster munitions, by virtue of their unreliability, also have the potential to create a major problem as an explosive remnant of war.   

The SMArt 155 is fundamentally different.  It is highly sophisticated, discriminating, accurate and reliable, and takes advantage of a range of technologies and design features which help to minimise any potential impact on civilians.  Unlike cluster munitions of humanitarian concern, which can have hundreds of sub-munitions, the SMArt 155 comprises only two projectiles.

The SMArt 155 is designed to be effective against heavily armoured vehicles rather than personnel.

Doesn’t this breach Australia ’s obligations under international humanitarian law?

The SMArt 155 acquisition is consistent with Australia ’s obligations under international humanitarian law, and takes into account the Government’s commitment to avoid humanitarian hazards. 

There is more information contained the Fact Sheet, located here: http://www.defence.gov.au/media/index.cfm

What is the Australian Government’s policy on the acquisition of weapons such as cluster munitions?

In the study, development, acquisition or adoption of any new weapon, Australia is obliged to determine whether that weapon’s employment would, in some or all circumstances, be prohibited by the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I); or by any other rule of international law applicable to Australia.


Defence has reviewed the SMArt 155 and is satisfied that if used in accordance with current ADF targeting rules, its use will be consistent with Australia 's international legal obligations.

What proof do you have to support the claims of the manufacturer?

Testing undertaken in Germany and elsewhere indicates that the SMArt 155 is a very reliable and accurate system.

Defence is obliged by internal regulatory policy to assure the reliability and performance of all materiel, including munitions. 

Defence has a robust framework for management of the technical integrity of munitions during acquisition, introduction to service and through life use. 

Has this munition ever been used on operations? 

The ADF has not used this munition on operations – we are still in the acquisition process.

Other countries, including Switzerland , Germany , the USA , and Greece , have also acquired, or are in the process of acquiring, the SMArt 155 system. 

Whether or not those nations have used the SMArt 155 system on operations is a matter for them.

What obligations does the ADF have to ‘clean up’ after operations where munitions such as the SMArt 155 are used?

If, as a result of ADF action during an armed conflict, explosive remnants of war do result, Australia has particular obligations under Protocol V of the CCW to minimise the risk they pose to civilian populations. 

A Party to Protocol V is obliged to mark, clear, remove or destroy explosive remnants of war such as unexploded and abandoned ordnance present in territory under its control. 

If a Party does not exercise control over the territory where it has used munitions which have subsequently become Explosive Remnants of War, after the cessation of active hostilities it is obliged to provide, where feasible, information to the Party who does exercise effective control of that territory to facilitate post conflict clearance.  

A Party is also obliged, to the maximum extent possible and as far as practicable, to record and retain information on the use of explosive ordnance or abandonment of explosive ordnance.  This is in order to facilitate the rapid marking and clearance, removal or destruction of explosive remnants of war, risk education and the provision of relevant information to the party in control of the affected territory and to civilian populations in the affected territory.

FACT SHEET

Considerations in the Selection of SMArt 155 Artillery Round

The SMArt 155 artillery round is a sensor-fused precision munition for use against tanks and other armoured vehicles, developed by the German firm, GIWS.  It is highly sophisticated and takes advantage of a range of technologies and design features which help to minimise any potential impact on civilians.

The SMArt 155 artillery shell is composed of two sensor-fused, precision projectiles.

- Each projectile has a targeting system which enables it to be precisely directed against armoured vehicles.  

- Each projectile has independent and reliable self-destruction and self-neutralisation capabilities, substantially decreasing the potential for the ordnance to become an explosive remnant of war.

Defence takes into account a number of technical, legal, operational and other considerations when acquiring any new weapon.

Firstly, Australia is obliged to determine whether that weapon’s employment would, in some or all circumstances, be prohibited by the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I) or by any other rule of international law applicable to Australia .

- Defence has reviewed the SMArt 155 and is satisfied that if used in accordance with current ADF targeting rules, its use will be consistent with Australia 's international legal obligations.

Second, Defence is obliged by internal regulatory policy to assure the reliability and performance of all materiel, including munitions.  Defence has a robust framework for management of the technical integrity of munitions during acquisition, introduction to service and through life use. 

Prior to introduction into service, a munition must be certified for use by the ADF.  This certification is based on a detailed specification which sets out all technical requirements to be delivered from the munition supplier.  Evidence to support certification is provided by a range of sources including some or all of:

- The original manufacturer (often supported by data from the Government of the source nation);

- Foreign assessment agencies (such as NATO);

- Where available, service history from ADF or foreign use of the munition;

- ADF testing (based on trials conducted by ADF agencies).

The SMArt 155 met or exceeded all technical requirements and strong supporting evidence was provided from a range of reliable sources including the German and US governments.  The item underwent testing to reliability and performance specifications stated in NATO Standardisation Agreements, Allied Quality Assurance Publications, Allied Ordnance Publications, and Allied Environmental and Test Publications.

Once accepted into service, Defence conducts rigorous through-life monitoring to ensure that the performance, reliability and safety of the munitions are maintained while “in-service”.  Defence has a strong interest in ensuring that to the extent possible, its munitions continue to meet their technical standards until they are used or removed from service.

Third, as mentioned, the employment of the SMArt 155 against a legitimate military objective is governed by the principles of International Humanitarian Law, including distinction and proportionality.  These principles require a party to a conflict to distinguish at all times between civilian and military objectives; and to not launch any attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, or which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated by such an attack.  ADF personnel are trained in the laws of armed conflict, which form an integral part of ADF targeting decisions. 

Finally, if, as a result of ADF action during an armed conflict, explosive remnants of war do result, Australia has particular obligations under Protocol V of the CCW to minimise the risk they pose to civilian populations.  A Party to Protocol V is obliged to mark, clear, remove or destroy explosive remnants of war such as unexploded and abandoned ordnance present in territory under its control.  A Party is also obliged, to the maximum extent possible and as far as practicable, to record and retain information on the use of explosive ordnance or abandonment of explosive ordnance.  This is in order to facilitate the rapid marking and clearance, removal or destruction of explosive remnants of war, risk education and the provision of relevant information to the party in control of the affected territory and to civilian populations in the affected territory.

 
 

Issued by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, ACT
Phone: 02 6127 1999 Fax: 02 6265 6946
Media releases are available by email if you register online