Washington and Canberra will jointly develop and test hypersonic weapons, the parties have signed an agreement.

Reported by the Australian Department of Defense.

“Last week, Australia and the United States signed a new cooperation agreement to develop and test experimental prototypes of hypersonic cruise missiles.

The countries are concluding this agreement as part of the Southern Cross Comprehensive Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE), which involves joint flight tests of full-size prototypes of hypersonic cruise missiles, ”the ministry said in a statement.

As noted by Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds, Canberra intends to contain "aggression" directed "against the interests of Australia."

“This is why we will continue to fund capacity building to enhance the ability of the Air Defense Forces to contain aggression against Australian interests.

This includes $ 9.3 billion allocated as part of the Force Structure Plan 2020, which provides for readiness for a long-range rapid strike and missile defense, including the development, testing and analysis of the effectiveness of hypersonic weapons "- said Reynolds.

The official statement of the minister does not specify which countries she is talking about "aggression".

However, according to Western media, in particular Reuters, the minister said that the joint development of hypersonic missiles would be carried out allegedly "in order to counter Russia and China."

“In addition, funding a deterrent against Australia benefits our region, our allies and our security partners,” Reynolds said.

The Secretary of Defense also stressed that Australia remains committed to "regional peace and stability, as well as openness, inclusiveness and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region."

As the Australian Department of Defense recalled, the SCIFiRE program is "the result of more than 15 years of collaboration between Australia and the United States in the scientific and technological research of hypersonic aircraft, rocket engines, sensors and advanced manufacturing materials."

  • Australian Defense Secretary Linda Reynolds

  • © Brendan Smialowski / Pool via REUTERS

Pentagon speaking

Representatives of the US Department of Defense also spoke about the signed agreement.

Thus, the acting deputy head of the Pentagon for research and development work, Michael Kratsios, welcomed the start of a new collaboration.

“This initiative will be of paramount importance for future research and development of hypersonic technology.

It will provide the United States and our allies with leadership in developing military capabilities of a qualitatively new level, ”he said.

As specified on the website of the United States Defense Department, “efforts under the SCIFiRE program are aimed at the joint creation of low-cost, full-size prototype delivery vehicles with flexible capabilities and long range, which can be used in demonstration flights under conditions similar to real ".

However, neither the Pentagon nor the Australian Department of Defense detailed their plans and did not specify the timing of their implementation.

The details were reported by the American edition of Defense News.

According to him, a new weapon will be tested in Australia - a high-precision hypersonic missile, which is launched using a power plant and propelled by a ramjet engine.

It is expected to enter service over the next five to ten years.

The Air Force Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force in Canberra, Air Vice Marshal Katherine Roberts, said the weapon could be carried by tactical fighters such as the F / A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-35A Lightning. II, as well as the P-8A Poseidon naval reconnaissance aircraft.

As Defense News clarifies, tests of this missile will likely take place at the Voomera test site in a remote part of South Australia.

Chinese factor

As noted by Konstantin Blokhin, a researcher at the Center for Security Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Washington and Canberra signed an agreement on the development and testing of hypersound "as part of the policy of containing China."

“Western media mention Russia in this context, since the country has extremely promising hypersonic weapons, and no one likes this overseas.

However, in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and the United States regard China as the most dangerous growing giant, "he said in an interview with RT.

It is worth noting that the agreement between Washington and Canberra on the development and testing of hypersound was signed after the July visit of Linda Reynolds and Australian Foreign Minister Maris Payne to the United States.

Then the parties discussed the possibility of such cooperation.

In addition, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said during a press conference following talks with Australian counterparts about China's "bad behavior" in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

  • Pentagon

  • © Olivier Douliery / AFP

Meanwhile, tensions exist between China and Australia, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on November 30.

He made this statement, commenting on a Twitter post by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, which contained a photo of an Australian soldier holding a knife to a child's neck.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman accompanied the image with a statement stating that Beijing was shocked by the killings of Afghan civilians and Afghan prisoners of war by Australian soldiers and strongly condemned such actions.

Morrison called the photo falsified and demanded an apology from Beijing.

In China, they replied that Australia should be ashamed of its military.

Recall that in November, the results of an investigation conducted by the Australian Armed Forces were published, according to which soldiers of the elite unit of the Australian special forces SAS killed 39 people without sufficient reason during the war in Afghanistan in 2009-2013.

Difficult relations between countries in recent years and in the economic sphere.

At the end of November, Canberra called the PRC's measure related to the de facto ban on the import of Australian wine, which Beijing imposed a duty of 212.1%, was called unjustified and politically motivated.

"Junior partner in the project"

As noted by the military expert, senior researcher at the Higher School of Economics Vasily Kashin, the signing of the American-Australian agreement on the development and testing of hypersound occurred against the backdrop of aggravated relations between Australia and China.

“Despite the fact that these countries have close economic cooperation, they differ on many political issues.

However, the heat was due, among other things, to the fact that Australia supported calls to investigate the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is not surprising that Beijing recently advised Canberra to adjust its actions if it wants to restore relations with its largest trading partner, "the analyst said in an interview with RT.

Kashin also added that Australia is now "under formally undeclared Chinese economic sanctions."

“The level of tension in relations between the two countries has only been growing lately.

In this context, Australia wants to strengthen its military power, including through cooperation with the United States, ”the expert said.

Blokhin, for his part, recalled that Canberra “is part of the so-called intelligence alliance“ Five Eyes ”, within the framework of which the intelligence services of the Anglo-Saxon countries - the USA, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are cooperating.

“These states have formed a special relationship based, among other things, on the exchange of intelligence.

It is clear that Australia wants to do its part through this partnership.

Perhaps, in the future, it will even take part in an operation to encircle the PRC with a ring of unfriendly states on whose territory there are American military bases, "the expert noted.

However, as part of the development and testing of hypersonic weapons, Australia "can hardly provide the Americans with any special technology," Blokhin said.

"Canberra, for its part, can only demonstrate unity with the United States," the analyst said.

Vasily Kashin adheres to a similar position on this issue.

In his opinion, Australia will be the "junior partner in the project" for the joint development and testing of hypersound.

  • Image of the advanced "super-fast" missile system AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW)

  • © Lockheed Martin

“The Americans have some experience in creating hypersonic cruise missiles, the role of Australia here is negligible.

It can only provide some financial resources and conditions for testing.

Otherwise, everything depends on the Americans.

Washington possesses a number of models of hypersonic weapons, however, it may take about 10 years before they enter service, ”the expert said.

Kashin did not rule out that Washington and Canberra could really start testing a high-precision hypersonic missile with a ramjet engine in Australia, as reported by the American media.

Blokhin, for his part, noted that the United States is "determined to invest seriously" in the development and testing of hypersonic weapons.

“Now the main task of the Pentagon is to modernize the armed forces, and hypersound is a key component in this direction.

However, despite the fact that the United States has the resources, they are still very far from the full implementation of their projects on hypersonic weapons, ”the analyst concluded.