Australia Bolsters Defense Against China with Longer-Range Missiles, Major Overhaul of Defense Strategy
Australia to Accelerate Acquisition of Longer Range Missiles to Counter Growing Threat from China, Says Major Defence Review
Australia has announced plans to speed up efforts to acquire longer-range missiles in order to counter the growing threat from China, according to a major defence review. The review, known as the Defence Strategic Review (DSR), is described as the biggest overhaul of Australian defence since World War Two. It warns that Australia can no longer rely solely on its geographic isolation for protection in the “missile age”. The government has committed to spending around A$19 billion ($12 billion, £10 billion) to implement the immediate recommendations of the report.
The DSR comes amid increasing regional tension over China’s stance towards Taiwan, with China repeatedly vowing to take Taiwan by force if necessary. China has also established a major military presence in the disputed South China Sea, claiming parts of it as its own territory in contravention of international law.
The report states that China’s military build-up is now the largest and most ambitious of any country since the end of World War Two, and is occurring without transparency or reassurance to the Indo-Pacific region about China’s strategic intent.
Defence Minister Richard Marles said that the review recommends Australia’s armed forces shift their focus from land-based armour to “longer-range strike capability, with munitions built in Australia”. He further stated that the acquisition of precision strike missiles with ranges exceeding 500 km (310 miles) would provide the army with the firepower and mobility needed for the future.
The review aims to make Australia more self-reliant, prepared, and secure, and to deter China from using force to achieve its policy objectives, including Taiwan and the South China Sea. Australia’s new defence posture is aimed at keeping a major power adversary like China as far away as possible, according to analysts.
The strategic review also recommends strengthening Australia’s northern defences and enhancing the operating ability of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) from northern bases. Plans to acquire the land-based High Mobility Artillery Rocket (HIMARS) system, which was effectively used by Ukraine’s army to counter the Russian advance, will be fast-tracked.
To fund these new priorities, several projects, including plans for new self-propelled guns and ammunition supply vehicles for the army, will be put on hold. The review also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a continuous shipbuilding capability in Australia and recommends acquiring long-range anti-ship missiles for fighter aircraft, although the new US B-21 Raider stealth bomber is deemed currently unsuitable.
Last month, the US State Department approved the sale of 220 cruise missiles to Australia in a deal worth $895 million. These non-nuclear missiles will be used by the Virginia-class submarines that Australia will acquire from the US under the Aukus defence pact agreed upon by Australia, the UK, and the US.