US, UK, Australia expand AUKUS to include hypersonic missiles

by Trinity Cardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


A stark reminder of the realities currently faced by the world, on Tuesday the leaders of three of the world’s largest military powers announced they intended to create ever-more-deadly and efficient weapons as a means of deterring Russia and other potential enemies.  

U.S. President Joe Biden, U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a joint statement in which the leaders pledged to develop more and better cutting-edge weaponry.

“We [are] committed today to commence new trilateral cooperation on hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, and electronic warfare capabilities, as well as to expand information sharing and to deepen cooperation on defense innovation,”  the statement reads.

The announcement followed a meeting to discuss the progress of AUKUS, the trilateral agreement among the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia under which the longtime allies agreed to share resources and intelligence as they strive to develop a vastly more powerful Australian navy and improve Western standing in the Indo-Pacific region.

Among the commitments the leaders reaffirmed were those related to the development of artificial intelligence, unmanned underwater vessels, and weapons that use the electromagnetic spectrum to attack an enemy.  

“These initiatives will add to our existing efforts to deepen cooperation on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities,” the statement reads. “As our work progresses on these and other critical defense and security capabilities, we will seek opportunities to engage allies and close partners.”

Hypersonic missiles, which have been used by Russia in its attack on Ukraine, travel at five times the speed of sound and could prove difficult, if not impossible, for traditional missile defense systems to handle.

As is common on matters of national defense, details were scant. On a fact sheet released by the White House, the nations agreed only to work together and share information to create a defense structure that will deter Russian aggression.

“The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the joint statement reads, “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.”

While Tuesday’s announcement was ostensibly a response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, AUKUS as an alliance has always been about countering China’s power in the Indo-Pacific. 

The timing of Tuesday’s announcement, either by design or chance, provided the Chinese Communist Party an opportunity to respond.

Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, addressed the UN on Tuesday and was asked by reporters how his nation responded to the AUKUS expansion.

Predictably, the Chinese took a dim view of its international rivals developing high-end weapons that could be used to cajole the People’s Republic of China well after the end of hostilities in Ukraine. 

“Anyone who do not want to see the Ukrainian crisis should refrain from doing things which may lead the other parts of the world into a crisis like this,” Zhang said. “As the Chinese saying goes: If you do not like it, do not impose it against the others.”