On Wednesday, it was announced by Australia that the domestic production of guided missiles would commence by 2025, which is two years earlier than anticipated. This announcement is part of Australia’s restructuring of its defense strategy to prioritize long-range strike capabilities.
The Labor government on Monday said that it was accepting the recommendations of a defence review. It said that China had launched largest military buildup of any country since the end of Second World War without transparency. The power competition that this might start has a “potential for conflict” in the Indo-Pacific region.
The guided weapons were to be manufactured 2027 onwards but the time frame has been advanced by two years. Australia has now allocated A$ 2.5 billion to the project, according to Defence Minister Richard Marles.
That represents a more than doubling in funding, which is being diverted from cancelled defence projects.
“That does radically shift the timeframe forward in terms of a manufacturing capability,” Marles said in a television interview with Nine on Wednesday.
A further A$1.6 billion will be spent on buying long‑range strike systems from overseas within two years, he said.
The government was already in talks with missile manufacturers Raytheon and Lockheed about establishing production in Australia, Marles added.
Discussions were also being held with Kongsberg, the Norwegian manufacturer of the naval strike missile Australia had already agreed to purchase, he said.
Australia is part of Quad grouping with India, Japan and the US. Though the informal group does not have a military element, it is widely perceived to be a US-led effort to contain rapidly increasing Chinese influence partcularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
Australia is traditionally viewed geographically away from major geopolitical hotspots but in recnt times China has been boosting ties with Pacific island nations, thought to be Australia’s backyard. Chinese military ships have also seen making forays into waters near Australian nautical zones.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Wednesday that Sydney will host next Quad Leaders’ Summit next month on May 24.
“I am honoured to host the first ever Quad Leaders’ Summit in Australia in Sydney,” Albanese said.
“The Quad is committed to supporting an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific that is respectful of sovereignty and ensures security and growth for all.”
The Australian prime minister said that during the summit, the quad countries will discuss how the grouping can work alongside partners and other groupings like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Pacific Islands Forum in order to boost coopeartion in the region.