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AUKUS pact expanded to base hypersonic missiles in Australia

On the eve of a federal election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week took another crucial step to put Australia at the forefront of US preparations for war against China.

Morrison announced a major expansion of last September’s AUKUS military pact, a deal that has the bipartisan backing of the opposition Labor Party, which is also committed to a deepening US military alliance.

In a joint statement, Morrison, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the AUKUS treaty between the three governments would be expanded to include the development of “advanced hypersonic and counter-hypersonic capabilities” and warfare technologies. electronic.

The UK Carrier Strike Group 2021, led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, departs from the UK (Credit: Royal Navy/Flickr)

Land-based hypersonic missiles, said to have a range of more than 2,000 kilometers, would be stationed in Australia, while air and sea-based versions could be deployed on the country’s fighter jets and warships.

This would make Australia an even more crucial base for the United States from which to launch a possible nuclear war against China, seen by Washington as the main threat to US global dominance.

Hypersonic missiles are capable of traveling at least five times the speed of sound, greatly reducing warning time. Coupled with their maneuverability, this makes them virtually impossible to intercept. They can carry nuclear warheads.

No price tag was mentioned. But these programs would require spending billions more, on top of the nearly $600 billion already allocated to Australian military weaponry in the current decade.

Bloomberg reported last November, based on internal Pentagon estimates, that the missiles would cost more than $100 million each, adding about $30 billion to spending to develop some 300 missiles starting this year.

CNN revealed Wednesday morning that the US military secretly tested hypersonic missiles last month.

The extent of the AUKUS partnership, directed against China, is becoming increasingly apparent. The treaty was initially headlined by the supply of long-range nuclear-powered attack submarines to Australia. This was in itself a major step towards confrontation with China, against which the submarines would be deployed.

The latest announcement indicates that the allies will also work together to revise their military innovation systems and deepen information sharing on the development of advanced military capabilities. AUKUS covers a wide range of weapons and intelligence collaborations, including cyber warfare, artificial intelligence, quantum technology, and underwater drone systems.

The announcement vaguely referred to the progress of work on “other critical defense and security capabilities”. These would include agreements reached over the past two years to expand US use of air, naval and land bases in Australia.

Additionally, the announcement revealed a series of high-level government and military meetings between the three allies to advance their war plans. Each country’s senior national security advisers met on March 10 to review the “pleasant” progress of the partnership, and several steering group meetings were held.

According to Australian Financial Review17 trilateral task forces work under the AUKUS banner, nine of which focus on submarines and eight on other advanced military capabilities.

In February, officials from all three countries inspected sites across Australia, ostensibly to examine submarine construction and operating sites. Shortly after, Morrison said $10 billion would be spent to build an underwater base and another $5 billion to expand a repair and maintenance shipyard.

Without naming China as a target, the announcement showed how the United States and its allies are exploiting the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which the United States and NATO deliberately provoked, to prepare for a similar conflict. with China. The three leaders said action was needed to combat “coercion” in light of the Russian invasion. This allegation is increasingly being leveled against Beijing, with unsubstantiated claims that it may invade Taiwan.

US Democratic Party Congressman Joe Courtney, who co-chairs the Friends of Australia Congressional Caucus, which has its own “AUKUS Caucus” task force, stressed the importance attached by the Biden administration to the Australia as a war base.

Courtney told the Australian Financial Review“It’s blindingly obvious that when you look at the aggression and the size of the Chinese navy, the United States clearly needs to pivot in the region, and the region is so vast that we need allies like Australia ready .”

Morrison is planning a “khaki election,” based on the beating of the drums of war to turn away from the intense political and social crisis produced by the deadly “living with the virus” policies that have escalated the COVID-19 pandemic, skyrocketing levels of social inequality and the devastating impact of climate-related floods and bushfires.

The Prime Minister of the Liberal-National Coalition trumpeted AUKUS as “the most important defense agreement this country has reached since the ANZUS Treaty 70 years ago” and said he had achieved what “no no other Prime Minister has been able to secure” – a US commitment to share its nuclear technology.

A day earlier, Morrison and Defense Minister Peter Dutton said Australian fighter jets and warships would be armed with long-range strike missiles by 2024, three years earlier than promised, in the part of another $3.5 billion military upgrade.

US military giants Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are reportedly working to “rapidly increase” Australia’s capacity to maintain and manufacture guided weapons. This would further integrate Australia into US military operations.

Dutton, who is vying to replace the increasingly discredited Morrison, has stepped up his aggressive accusations against China. He told the Nine Network that China was “on track” to take control of Taiwan, that Chinese President Xi Jinping was an “autocrat” and that “China is arming itself more and more with nuclear weapons. “.

The AUKUS expansion is part of a series of growing military commitments. Last month, Morrison’s government said it would spend $1 billion to build missiles and guided weapons in Australia.

However, led by Anthony Albanese, Labor is just as ready to stage a ‘khaki election’. Labor insisted there was no difference with the anti-China offensive. In fact, Albanese sought to outdo the Coalition, boasting that Labor had initiated the American alliance during World War II.

Additionally, Albanese criticized the government for leaving “gaps” in military capabilities until the submarines were delivered within the next two decades.

This week, Albanese told an April 5 home press conference in Canberra that he was concerned about “government cuts to our sizeable defense budget”. This is consistent with criticisms voiced in key ruling circles, such as by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a pro-US think tank that has pushed for an even more aggressive anti-China stance.

Also, Australian Foreign editor Greg Sheridan yesterday accused the government of making ‘artificial self-congratulatory calendar announcements’. He said there was a “fundamental disconnect” between his “national security rhetoric and his astonishing lack of action.”

Labor’s response is a warning. Like the current coalition government, a Labor-led government would only increase vast military buildup and seek to impose its burden on working people through deeper cuts to public health, education, housing and other essential social programs.