Australia is liasoning with the US to accelerate a programme aimed at creating a sovereign guided-missile program, a move that comes amidst surging hostility with China. Ironing out further details, the country's newly minted defence minister Peter Dutton said that the programme supports the needs of both Australia and its “most important military ally.” Officially termed as Sovereign Guided Weapon Enterprise, the programme is aimed at bolstering the island’s sovereign weapon manufacturing capabilities.
“We will work closely with the United States on this important initiative to ensure that we understand how our enterprise can best support both Australia’s needs and the growing needs of our most important military partner,” Defence Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement Wednesday.
“Creating our own sovereign capability on Australian soil is essential to keep Australians safe, while also providing thousands of local jobs in businesses right across the defence supply chain. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, having the ability for self-reliance, be it vaccine development or the defence of Australia, is vital to meeting our own requirements in a changing global environment,” Morrison told reporters in Adelaide.
In November last year, both Canberra and Washington signed a deal to develop and test hypersonic cruise missile prototypes with long-range strike capabilities. The deal was inked under the nations’ 15-year Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) program. The programme comes despite Bejing issuing a stern warning that any country which accepts the deployment of American missiles would face retaliation.
Friction between Beijing and Canberra have gradually escalated over the past years, especially after the communist nation's increased interference in the Pacific. Last year, the Chinese government imposed a 200 per cent tax on Australian wine, which as per the Australian trade minister made the drink unsellable in the communist nation. Later, China also effectively ended imports of Australian barley by putting tariffs of more than 80% on the crop and accusing Australia of breaching World Trade Organization rules by subsidizing barley production and selling the crop in China at below production costs. Australia dismissed the matter saying that it did not want a trade war with China, its largest trade partner. However, China continued the imposition of bans and haled the import of beef and other items.
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