Australia announced Wednesday it would begin building its own guided missiles in close collaboration with the US as it seeks to boost its defense capabilities. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it would partner with a weapons manufacturer to build the missiles in a plan that would create thousands of jobs as well as export opportunities. Morrison said it would spend $761 million billion (1 billion Australian dollars) on the plan as part of a huge ten-year investment in defense and the defense industry.
“Creating our own sovereign capability on Australian soil is essential to keep Australians safe, while also providing thousands of local jobs in businesses right across the defence supply chain. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, having the ability for self-reliance, be it vaccine development or the defence of Australia, is vital to meeting our own requirements in a changing global environment. It’s an imperative we now proceed with the creation of a sovereign guided weapons capability as a priority, accelerating this process following the idea first being explored in the Force Structure Plan” the Prime Minister said.
Australia is part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, along with the US, Canada, Britain and New Zealand. Australia will work closely with the US on this important initiative to ensure that we understand how our enterprise can best support both Australia’s needs and the growing needs of our most important military partner. Building weapons in Australia would not only enhance its capabilities but would also ensure the nation had sufficient for combat operations if there was any disruption to global supply chains.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has estimated that Australia will spend $76 billion ($100 billion) in the next 20 years on missile and guided weapons purchases. Minister Porter released the National Manufacturing Defence Roadmap today, showing a ten year plan for investment and industry growth. The road map identifies opportunities for defence manufacturers to build on existing areas of strength such as military vehicle and aircraft manufacturing, naval shipbuilding and marine hardware production, cutting-edge digital technologies such as 3D printing, and explosives and propellants. Initial applications will be limited to the Translation and Integration streams of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative.
The U.S. Department of Defense and the Australian Department of Defence announced a bilateral effort to advance the development of air-breathing hypersonic technologies. The Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) is an Allied Prototyping Initiative (API) under the Directorate for Advanced Capabilities within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. SCIFiRE is the second effort announced under the Allied Prototyping Initiative, which was launched in 2019 by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering through its Advanced Capabilities directorate.
The SCIFiRE effort aims to cooperatively advance air-breathing hypersonic technologies into full-size prototypes that are affordable and provide a flexible, long range capability, culminating in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions. The effort will also pursue potential co-production opportunities between the two countries, and leverages U.S. and Australian collaborative hypersonic activities over the last 15 years, namely the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) program. SCIFiRE continues collaborative research efforts involving the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force Headquarters, and the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group.