AUKUS pact expanded to base hypersonic missiles in Australia

On the eve of calling a federal election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week took another critical step to placing Australia on the frontline of US preparations for war against China.

Morrison heralded a major expansion of last September’s AUKUS military pact, an agreement that has bipartisan support from the opposition Labor Party, which is equally committed to the intensifying US military alliance.

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

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

Land-based hypersonic missiles, which would have a range of more than 2,000 kilometres, would be stationed in Australia, while air and sea versions could be deployed on the country’s jet fighters and warships.

This would make Australia an even more crucial base for the US, from which to launch a potential nuclear war against China, which is regarded by Washington as the chief threat to US global dominance.

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

No price tag was mentioned. But these programs would require the spending of billions more dollars, on top of the near $600 billion already allocated for Australian military weaponry over 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 on Wednesday morning that the American military had secretly tested hypersonic missiles last month.