CEO Morning Brief

Missiles, Drones and Warships the Priority as Australia Plans US$32 Bil Defence Boost

Publish date: Thu, 18 Apr 2024, 01:26 PM
TheEdge CEO Morning Brief

SYDNEY (April 17): Australia will boost defence spending by A$50.3 billion (US$32 billion) over the next decade and reshuffle its weapons programmes to emphasise missiles, drones and warships, as it looks to the possibility of a Pacific conflict between China and the US.

The bulk of the new spending, part of a A$330 billion decade-long budget, will only kick in after five years, and ultimately take defence spending to 2.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2034, from just over 2% at present day.

Announced by Defence Minister Richard Marles on Wednesday, the new funding reflects new priorities, such as long-range missiles, that Australia believes are necessary in a world where a potential conflict between China and the United States could upend the region.

"The optimistic assumptions that guided defence planning after the end of the Cold War are long gone," Marles said in a speech at the national press club. "Our environment is characterised by the uncertainty and tensions of entrenched and increasing strategic competition between the United States and China."

Just over 40%, or up to A$145 billion, is set for the navy, including a beefed-up surface fleet, the Aukus nuclear-powered submarine programme, as well as other priorities, such as the Ghost Shark undersea drone.

A fifth, or up to A$74 billion, will go towards missile-related programmes, whose importance was flagged in a review last year. There will be new longer-range missiles for the air force and army, missile defence programmes and domestic manufacturing of guided weapons, the review said.

Military bases across the country's north, where US Marines are based for months of training and exercises each year, will be allocated up to A$18 billion for upgrades.

Source: TheEdge - 18 Apr 2024

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