The UK, US and Australia have agreed to work together on both hypersonic and anti-hypersonic weapons as the three nations reaffirmed their “unwavering commitment” to an international system that “respects human rights”.
The leaders of the countries, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, issued a statement on Tuesday that was part of the Aukus military pact.
The Aukus deal, announced last September, initially focused on joint development of nuclear-powered submarines in the Pacific as concerns grew over China.
Now attention is turning to Russia after the invasion began in February and new areas of cooperation were added to the deal. This includes, for example, the hypersonic weapons technology that is said to have been used recently by Vladimir Putin’s armed forces in Ukraine.
Mr Johnson previously suggested the alliance could go beyond just encircling submarines, and on Tuesday the trio of countries committed to “starting new trilateral cooperation on hypersonic and counter-hypersonic, electronic warfare capabilities and intelligence.” to expand exchanges and deepen cooperation on defense innovation.”
In a statement, Aukus leaders said, “We have reaffirmed our commitment to Aukus and to a free and open Indo-Pacific. In the face of Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified and unlawful invasion of Ukraine, we have reaffirmed our unwavering commitment to an international system that respects human rights, the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of disputes without coercion.”
The statement continued, “We also committed today to launch new trilateral cooperation on hypersonic and counter-hypersonic and electronic warfare capabilities, as well as expand information sharing and deepen cooperation on defense innovation.”
“These initiatives will complement our existing efforts to deepen collaboration in the areas of cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional underwater capabilities.
“As our work on this and other critical defense and security capabilities progresses, we will explore opportunities to engage allies and close partners.”
The three leaders added that they were “pleased with the progress” Australia is making in developing nuclear submarines.
The initial announcement of the Aukus Pact did not go down well in Paris, as the submarine deal came at the expense of a deal between Australia and France to supply diesel-electric boats.