WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced on Tuesday that they would join forces to develop hypersonic missiles known as AUCs through a recently formed security alliance.
The move comes amid growing concerns from the US and allies about China’s growing military prowess in the Pacific. US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the plan in September after a check-in on the progress of AUKUS, an Indo-Pacific alliance launched by the three countries.
The leaders said in a joint statement that they are “committed to expanding information sharing and deepening cooperation on defense innovation, as well as launching new trilateral cooperation on hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, and electronic warfare capabilities.”
The US, Russia and China have all looked to further develop hypersonic missiles – a system fast enough that it cannot be intercepted by any existing missile defense system.
In October, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed that China had tested a hypersonic weapons system. As part of its aggressive effort to advance in space and military technologies.
In a Bloomberg television interview, Milley described the Chinese test as “a very important event in testing a hypersonic weapon system, and it is very worrying”.
According to the top US commander in Europe, Russia has used hypersonic missiles in Ukraine “multiple times”.
Last fall, as US intelligence officials became concerned about Russian troop congestion on Ukraine’s border, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the country’s arms makers To develop even more advanced hypersonic missiles to maintain the country’s lead in military technologies.
The Russian military has said its Avangard system is capable of flying at 27 times the speed of sound and moving swiftly towards targets to dodge enemy missile shields. It has been fitted to existing Soviet-made intercontinental ballistic missiles instead of the older type of warheads, and the first unit equipped with the Avangard entered duty in December 2019.
According to Russian officials, the Kinjal, carried by MiG-31 fighter jets, has a range of 2,000 kilometers (about 1,250 miles) and flies 10 times the speed of sound.
The Pentagon’s 2023 budget request already includes $4.7 billion for hypersonic weapons research and development. This includes plans that will include a hypersonic missile battery by next year, a sea-based missile by 2025 and an air-based cruise missile by 2027.
Biden, Johnson and Morrison have presented the creation of AUKUS as an opportunity for greater sharing of defense capabilities. In its first major action, the coalition said it would help equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.
Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.