Limitoo News

UK, US, Australia agree to work on hypersonics under defence pact

Britain, the United States and Australia on Tuesday agreed to cooperate on hypersonic weapons and electronic warfare capabilities, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office says, following a call between leaders of the new defence alliance.

US President Joe Biden meets Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in New York on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly meeting on 21 September, 2021.
US President Joe Biden meets Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met in New York on 21 September, 2021. Photo: EyePress News / EyePress via AFP

The new AUKUS defence alliance, launched in September last year, prompted Australia to cancel a contract for a conventional French submarine in favour of a nuclear submarine program supported by the United States and Britain, damaging relations with French President Emmanuel Macron.

In a joint statement, AUKUS leaders Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they were pleased with the progress of the programme for conventionally armed, nuclear powered submarines for Australia, and the allies would co-operate in other areas too.

"We also committed today to commence new trilateral cooperation on hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, and electronic warfare capabilities," the statement said.

The United States and Australia already have a hypersonic weapon programme called SCIFiRE, and British officials said that though Britain would not join that programme at this point, the three countries would work together on research and development in the area to increase their options.

Biden's administration is investing in the research and development of hypersonic missiles, which travel at five times the speed of sound, as Russia's February invasion of Ukraine has intensified concerns about European security.

"In light of Russia's unprovoked, unjustified, and unlawful invasion of Ukraine, we reiterated our unwavering commitment to an international system that respects human rights, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes free from coercion," the leaders said, adding they also reaffirmed their commitment to a "free and open Indo-Pacific".

- Reuters