AUKUS partners to unleash new defence technology plan

Australia is prioritising autonomous military technology, information warfare and quantum computing in the secretive second phase of the AUKUS pact.

Details of the second pillar – on top of Australia’s $368bn commitment to acquire nuclear submarines – have been closely held since the pact was unveiled more than two years ago.

But officials have been meeting in working groups across technologies including artificial intelligence, hypersonic missiles and advanced cyber, which Prof Munro said had been a “forcing function for winnowing down what we do” to meet frontline security needs.

Speaking at the Center for a New American Security last month, she suggested Australia was focused on autonomous technology, automated intelligence and information warfare tools, and the “very significant disruption coming” through quantum.

The Prime Minister is due to arrive in the US on Monday for a four-day trip including a prestigious state dinner at the White House.

Uncertain world: $1.7bn missile boost for Australia amid concerns about China’s military build up

Australia’s navy is set to be armed more than 200 Tomahawk missiles amid concerns over China’s growing military presence in the region.

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy will on Monday announce a $1.7bn investment in new, hi-tech missiles to expand the strike power of the Australian Defence Force.

The purchase comes off the back of the recommendations made in the defence strategic review to urgently beef-up the ADF’s medium-range advanced and high-speed missile defence capabilities.

The Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles are long-range guided missiles and have a range of up to 1500km.

US military presence in Australia unprecedented since WWII

The central question now is whether the US build-up is transforming Australia into a base for offensive US operations into Asia.

A greater presence of American forces brings with it the “need for mutual respect of rights and obligations”. It will be for Canberra now to outline how freedom of policy manoeuvre is not constrained. This is no straw man argument. It cuts to the very core of Australia’s ability to act independently, particularly if at some future point US and Australian interests do not align.

The change from the mid-1990s has been nothing short of staggering.

'Not impossible': UK looks to British troops in Darwin

British soldiers based in Australia could be part of the next step to bringing the two military forces closer together.

UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said stationing British troops in Darwin, where US marines have a presence, was "not impossible" as his nation looked to expand its influence in the Pacific.

"It comes up quite regularly in conversation about what the Aussies and the US are doing up there and whether we should be there too," he said.

The minister said the UK was still in a discovery phase in the Pacific and military deployments to Australia were a better option than basing British troops on more contested territories in the region. He said the UK was working careful to expand its presence in the Pacific with concerns moving too fast or being too heavy handed might do more harm than good by alienating partner nations.

Plan to bring HIMARS to NT

The Territory government has begun discussions with the Defence Department about the possible deployment of long range missiles in the Top End.

Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Darwin this week, NT Major Projects Commissioner Jason Schoolmeester said the government had begun talks with the commonwealth about potential locations for the rollout.

Announced as part of the Defence Strategic Review released in April, Canberra plans to spend $4.1bn to acquire more long-range strike systems and a missile manufacturing capacity.

Its shopping list includes $1.6bn for long-range strike capabilities including speeding-up the delivery of extra high mobility artillery rocket systems — HIMARS — and the precision strike missiles — PRISM.

It’s hoping the HIMARS, which have a range of up to 300km, will be in place by 2026-27.

Defence plans to spend $2.5bn for guided weapons and explosive ordnance enterprise as part of its proposed $19bn commitment over the next five years to meeting the review’s priorities.