SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australia’s involvement in the development of hypersonic missiles with treaty partners the United States and Britain was part of an effort to achieve peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday.
Britain, the United States and Australia on Tuesday agreed to cooperate on hypersonic weapons and electronic warfare capabilities, under the AUKUS alliance the three countries established last September. Morrison, who is set to call an election for next month, told reporters in Sydney that hypersonic missiles, like cyber capabilities, were a key modern combat technology and Australia wanted to significantly upgrade its capabilities.
Asked if his expectation was China would invade Taiwan in the next decade and if Australia would be involved in any war, Morrison answered that he was building up defence capabilities to avoid those sort of scenarios. “We do these things to keep Australians safe; we do these things to bring balance and strategic certainty to our region,” he said, adding that included working with the AUKUS alliance and the Quad grouping of the United States, Japan, Australia and India. “The reason we invest in all of these things is to create a peaceful environment and a stable environment in our region, not one driven by conflict.”
Last year, when the AUKUS pact was announced, Australia cancelled a contract with France for conventional submarines in favour of a nuclear submarine program supported by the United States and Britain, souring diplomatic relations. As well as the plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, Australia has outlined plans to increase the size of its defence forces, bring forward missile purchase orders, and placed orders for new tanks as part of a ramp up in defence spending.