The UK, US and Australia agreed to work together on hypersonic and anti-hypersonic weapons as the three nations reiterated their “unwavering commitment” to an international system that “respects human rights man”.
The countries’ leaders, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, issued a statement on Tuesday as part of the Aukus military pact.
The Aukus deal, announced last September, initially focused on sharing nuclear submarine development in the Pacific as concerns over China grew.
Now attention has turned to Russia after the invasion began in February and new areas of cooperation have been added to the deal. These include hypersonic weapons technology, which was reportedly used recently by Vladimir Putin’s forces in Ukraine.
Mr Johnson had previously suggested the alliance could go beyond surrounding submarines and on Tuesday the trio of countries pledged to “begin new trilateral cooperation on hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, and electronic warfare capabilities, as well as to expand information sharing and deepen cooperation in defense innovation.
In a statement, Aukus leaders said, “We reaffirmed our commitment to Aukus and to a free and open Indo-Pacific. 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 without coercion.
The statement continued, “We also committed today to begin new trilateral cooperation on hypersonic and counter-hypersonic, and electronic warfare capabilities, as well as to expand information sharing and deepen defense innovation cooperation.
“These initiatives will add to our existing efforts to deepen cooperation on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional underwater capabilities.
“As our work progresses on these and other critical defense and security capabilities, we will seek opportunities to engage allies and close partners.”
The three leaders added that they were “satisfied with the progress” made by Australia in the development of nuclear-powered submarines.
The initial announcement of the Aukus pact was not well received in Paris, as the submarine deal came at the expense of a deal between Australia and France to supply diesel boats -electric.