Under a new agreement with the U.S. and the U.K., Australia will develop long range hypersonic missiles that will be capable of travelling at least 5 times the speed of sound. The plan to develop these missiles comes as a direct response to the perceived threat from both China and Russia.
The new missile system will be able to be launched from land, sea and air and have a range in excess of 2000 kilometres. Along with nuclear-powered submarines, the hypersonic missile systems will be developed under the AUKUS defence pact.
There would be provisions for land-based missiles stationed around the country, as well as other variants that would be mobile and deployable from fighter jets and warships.
Scott Morrison joined his British and U.S. counterparts to announce the new deal, as the three leaders continued to condemn Russia’s
“unprovoked, unjustified and unlawful invasion of Ukraine.” On top of this, the leaders reiterated their commitment to develop and build Australia’s nuclear submarine program.
All AUKUS members will work collectively to develop the new missiles, missile defence systems and also radars capable of destroying an enemy’a hypersonic missiles.
AUKUS Leader’s Level Statement, released by the White House –
Currently, there is a technological race between China, Russia and the U.S. along with their allies to be the first to develop fully functioning hypersonic missiles. As they’ll have the capacity to glide on the atmosphere while changing direction at extremely high speeds, it would make them virtually impossible to track and destroy with currently available radar technology.
China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun warned against a measure that could instigate a conflict like the one currently occurring in Ukraine. He said that “anyone who does not want to see the Ukrainian crisis should refrain from doing things which may lead the other parts of the world into a crisis like this.”
“As the Chinese saying goes: if you do not like it, do not impose it against the others.”
On top of this, the three leaders also confirmed the progress of plans to develop undersea drones, with trails to commence early in 2023, and also the development of state-of-the-art quantum and artificial intelligence technologies.
The three leaders also stated that they “are pleased with the progress in our trilateral program for Australia to establish a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability.”
Unfortunately, there could be a slight problem with the plan as the current Collins-class submarines are due to retire in 2038 and the nuclear-powered replacements won’t arrive until 2040s.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton did however, tell The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that he is confident the new fleet of submarines would arrive prior to the expiration of the current fleet.
He also warned that war between China and Taiwan could eventuate in the not-too-distant future and if so, Australia would be obliged to support America in the conflict.
AUKUS was announced last September and since then leaders of the three nations involved have had multiple meetings to advance trilateral plans. Along side Australian experts, British and U.S. teams have travelled the country to select an appropriate location to build and maintain the fleet of nuclear submarines.
Steps are currently under way to ensure Australia will have an adequate workforce skilled with the necessary training and qualifications to build, operate and maintain nuclear powered submarines.
Not only this but on Tuesday Morrison and Dutton announced that Lockheed Martin and Raytheon will develop guided missiles for the nation at an estimated cost of $1 billion. These missiles will be equipped to the nation’s Super Hornet fighters with Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missiles and are to be delivered by 2024 which is 3 years ahead of original scheduling.