Canberra’s relations with its overseas neighbour, which is already testing its first hypersonic armaments, have been deteriorating over the course of 2020 in light of disputes over the coronavirus pandemic and trade disagreements.
Australia’s Defence Ministry has announced that it will be taking part in a joint programme with the US to develop a hypersonic missile for the country’s Defence Force (ADF). The country’s Defence Minister Linda Reynolds stressed that the new weapon would help defend “the nation’s interests in a rapidly changing global environment” and to “deter actions” against the country.
Canberra has allocated some $6.8 billion for a joint development programme for “high-speed long-range strike and missile defence”, which will include the testing and evaluation of the developed weapon. The joint project, dubbed the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE), is, in turn, a part of a bigger initiative by Australia’s government to invest almost $200 billion into the country’s defence capabilities over the next decade.
The move by the Australian government to boost its defensive and offensive capabilities comes amid a spate of rows with one of its overseas neighbours that also happens to be close to acquiring hypersonic weapons – China. The two have had several spats in 2020, including over Canberra’s allegations regarding Beijing’s role in spreading the coronavirus and over Australia’s alleged illegal non-market assistance to some of…