Australia approves $ 2.6 billion missile upgrade to counter China, AUKUS to help develop hypersonic missiles

The plan – which will significantly increase missile range on Australian warships and aircraft – comes after Australia said it would be involved in developing hypersonic missiles with the US and the UK under the AUKUS agreement, which the three countries signed last year. build nuclear submarines for canberra.

“If you see what is happening in Ukraine, if you see what the potential is for the conflict in the Indo-Pacific region, it is very real for us now and we must be realistic as we will deter any act of aggression and help keep the peace in our region, ”Defense Secretary Peter Dathan said of the Navy and Air Force missiles in an interview with Sky News on Tuesday.

A press release from Dathan’s office said Canberra would accelerate the acquisition of the Joint Long-Range Air-to-Surface Missile (JASSM) for use on its F / A-18 fighters and eventually the F-35A, Naval Strike Missile for its frigates and destroyers. and sea mines to protect their ports and sea approaches.

The new missiles are expected to be operational by 2024, the Defense Ministry said.

With the extended range of JASSM – an air-launched cruise missile developed in the US with hidden characteristics and the ability to adjust the course in flight – Australian military aircraft will be able to hit targets at a distance of 900 kilometers (560 miles), Dutton said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian-designed Naval Strike Missile is a maneuverable naval weapon that can hit targets from a distance of 185 kilometers (115 miles) – more than twice the current range of missiles on Australian ships, the statement said.

“Our ADF (Defense Forces of Australia) must be able to hold the forces and infrastructure of a potential enemy under threat from a greater distance,” Dathan said.

Both missiles are used by the U.S. military, and Dathan said their integration into Australian forces would help Canberra contribute to a coalition operation in the Pacific.

China is afraid

Australia’s defense minister has said China’s increased military activity in the Indo-Pacific region is the impetus for Canberra’s modernized missile program.

“We are, frankly, very concerned” about China’s militarization of islands in the South China Sea and the increase in China’s naval presence near Japanese waters in the East China Sea, Dathan told Sky News.

“We don’t want to see China being bullied, we don’t want to see any aggression against Taiwan,” he said, referring to the democratically run island, which China claims as its sovereign territory and has vowed to regain control.

Last month, Dathan criticized China’s draft security agreement with Solomon Islands in northeastern Australia in the Coral Sea, which opens up the possibility for Beijing to expand its military presence in the region. The Solomon Islands deny that any deal will lead to the establishment of a Chinese military base there.

China’s foreign ministry said Wednesday that Canberra and its partners in London and Washington are causing tensions in the region.

“The tripartite security partnership between the United States and Australia is an old trick of the Anglo-Saxon clique that cannot eliminate the Cold War mentality and bloc policies by provoking military confrontation and throwing knives at others,” said spokesman Wang Wenbin.

Hypersonic missiles

Wang specifically responded to Australia’s announcement on Tuesday that it would help develop hypersonic missiles and submarines with the U.S. and the UK.

Wang said Australia and its partners are stepping up the arms race in the region, adding that “the countries of the Asia-Pacific region should be on high alert.”

Hypersonic missiles are weapons that can fly five times faster than the speed of sound. While almost all ballistic missiles reach this speed and more, the latest hypersonic missiles and those under development are maneuverable and capable of evading missile defense systems.

China, Russia, North Korea and the United States say they have tested this new type of hypersonic missile.

The AUKUS statement did not specify the timing or specifics of the missile development.

But in the near future there will be tests of underwater drones.

“Our countries are working together to create autonomous submarines that will be a significant multiplier of forces for our naval forces. Initial tests and experiments on this capability are scheduled for 2023,” said in a joint statement by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. British Minister Boris. Johnson and US President Joe Biden.

What you need to know about hypersonic missiles fired by Russia over Ukraine
In this statement, AUKUS leaders noted that the current war in Ukraine emphasizes the importance of their partnership.

“Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and, more broadly, to an international system that respects human rights, the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of disputes without coercion – a commitment that grows in response to unprovoked, unjustified and illegal Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “the statement said.

In addition to hypersonic and submarine drones, AUKUS leaders noted progress in equipping the Australian fleet with nuclear submarines, including technology transfer to Canberra, developing a workforce to build submarines in Australia and building their base.

A deadline for the final delivery of the submarines was not named, the statement said the plan was to provide them to Australia “as soon as possible”.

CNN’s Beijing bureau contributed to the report.

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