AUKUS expands into hypersonics, provides submarine update

By: Defence Connect

An AUKUS leaders’ statement released last night confirmed that the trilateral security partnership has expanded its cooperation to include hypersonics and counter-hypersonics weapons systems while providing an update into the progress of the nuclear-powered submarine program.

According to the statement, AUKUS partner countries – Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States – have agreed to expand their remit and cooperate in the development of advanced hypersonic and counter hypersonic capabilities.

The announcement is expected to come as a boost to the Australian defence industry, with several Australian businesses and research institutions commencing research into hypersonic capabilities.

Additional advanced capabilities agreed to work on include:

Undersea capabilities such as the AUKUS Undersea Robotics Autonomous Systems Project. Quantum technologies including the AUKUS Quantum Arrangement (AQuA). Artificial intelligence and autonomy aimed at enhancing AI decision-making processes and to defend against other AI threats. Advanced cyber capabilities, including enhanced protection of communications and operating systems. Electronic warfare, where the three partners will share “tools, techniques and technology”. Innovation, including learning from each country’s defence innovation enterprises. Information sharing. The leaders’ statement also included a strategic update to Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine capability.

Over recent months, the partner countries finalised the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement (ENNPIA) with several teams from the member countries touring Australia to identify sites for “nuclear stewardship, infrastructure, workforce and industrial capabilities”.

Meanwhile, the federal government has shortlisted three potential sites for the future submarine base, while acquiring additional land for submarine facilities.

“The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and more broadly to an international system that respects human rights, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes free from coercion – a commitment whose importance has only grown in response to Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified, and unlawful invasion of Ukraine,” the statement read.

Just last week (29 March 2022), an Australian consortium was awarded $2.95 million to research reusable hypersonic UAVs. Hypersonix Launch Systems, the University of Southern Queensland, LSM Advanced Composites and Romar Engineering were awarded the grant via the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centres Project (CRC-P) to help develop a reusable UAV that can travel up to Mach 12.

In January, the Commonwealth government also opened Defence’s $14 million Australian Hypersonics Research Precinct in Brisbane’s Eagle Farm.

The precinct is designed to house over 60 staff.


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