WASHINGTON DC: The Australian government announced Tuesday it will partner with the U.S. to make hypersonic cruise missiles to rival those being developed by China and Russia.
Details: Australia’s Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement the government would “continue to invest in advanced capabilities” to give the Australian Defense Force “more options to deter aggression against Australia’s interests.”
The government has “earmarked” AU$9.3 billion ($6.8 billion) for “high-speed long-range strike and missile defence, including hypersonic development, test and evaluation,” Reynolds said.
She didn’t say how much it would cost to develop the air-launched, long-range missiles or when they would be rolled out, but the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the government aims to start testing prototypes “within months.”
What they’re saying: Both Reynolds and Michael Kratsios, acting under secretary of the U.S. Defense for Research and Engineering, called the joint Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) project “game-changing.”
“This initiative will be essential to the future of hypersonic research and development, ensuring the U.S. and our allies lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability.”
— Kratsios’ statement,
Of note: The move could further inflame tensions with the Chinese government, which has been at loggerheads with the Trump administration and Australian officials this year on a range of issues, notably the origins of the pandemic.
This week, Australia and China have clashed over a Chinese government official’s doctored Twitter image depicting an Australian soldier killing an Afghan child.