Australia said on Wednesday that it will begin domestic production of guided missiles by 2025, two years earlier than projected, as part of a broad overhaul of defense arrangements aimed at improving long-range strike capability.
On Monday, the Labor administration said it accepted the conclusions of a defense assessment, which found that China had started the greatest military buildup of any country since World War II without transparency, and that major power rivalry in the Indo Pacific had the “potential for conflict.”
The timetable for domestic manufacture of guided weapons, originally set for 2027, will be hastened to within two years by allocating A$2.5 billion to the project, Defense Minister Richard Marles said in media interviews.
That represents a more than doubling in funding, which is being diverted from cancelled defense 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.
Pat Conroy, the minister for defense industry, said the review recommended acquiring Kongsberg’s joint strike missile which would “allow us to look at manufacturing the Strike Missile family of missiles in Australia”.
Australia will work more closely with its security ally, the United States, while boosting diplomacy in the region to deter conflict and step up defense ties with India, Japan, Southeast Asian nations and Pacific islands, the review said.