Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Saturday that the United States will assist Australia in developing guided multiple-launch rocket systems by 2025 after the two countries’ top officials agreed to cooperate with China but stand up to it if necessary.
Due to the COVID-19 setback, Australia is hosting the high-level meeting for the first time since 2019.
Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are in Queensland for the AUSMIN meeting, which takes place every year, with their Australian counterparts.
Austin stated at a news conference that “We are pursuing several mutually beneficial initiatives with Australia’s defence industry, and these include a commitment to help Australia produce guided multiple launch rocket systems… by 2025.” Through a streamlined purchase procedure, the US is also quickening Australia’s access to priority weapons, he claimed.
Amid a military formation in the area from a more aggressive China, Australia’s Labour government has been strengthening military ties with the United States, a long-time friend.
Richard Marles, Australian Defence Minister said, “We are really pleased with the steps that we are taking in respect of establishing a guided weapons and explosive ordnance enterprise in this country.” He believed, as part of a shared industrial foundation between the two nations, missile production may start in Australia in two years. As part of the cooperative commitment, Marles stated that there would be an “increased tempo of visits from American nuclear-powered submarines to our waters”.
According to Blinken, the high-profile talks with Australia on Saturday featured “chief” topic of a common commitment to a free and safe Indo-Pacific area. “Our two countries are defending the international rules-based order, which has underwritten peace and security for decades. We’re doing that in part by engaging China, but also as necessary opposing its efforts to disrupt freedom of navigation overflight in the south and east China seas, to upend the status quo that’s preserved peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, to pressure countries through economic coercion,” he further said.
Marles and Austin were scheduled to go to north Queensland to participate in the Talisman Sabre war simulations with 11 other countries after the conclusion of the two-day talks on Saturday. However, the games were suspended after an Australian military helicopter that was taking part in the drills fell into the water, killing at least four persons on board and leaving many more missing.
Regarding the conflict in Ukraine, Blinken claimed that China had consistently reassured the United States that it was not giving Russia “material lethal assistance” for use in Ukraine.
He added, “We take those assurances very seriously,” saying the United States had expressed concerns to Beijing about certain organisations giving technology that may be used for drones and other types of weaponry.