Not long after China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, Australia announced plans to buy $2.6 billion worth of long-range missiles, raising concerns in Canberra.
Because of concerns about threats from China and Russia, Australia has decided to purchase long-range attack missiles several years earlier than planned.
On April 5, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton announced a $2.6 billion plan to upgrade Canberra’s deterrence against potential adversaries by equipping fighters and digital warships with missiles worth $2.6 billion.
Mr. Dutton told Military Cognizance that Australia pushed for the purchase of new missiles because of security concerns with Russia and China.
The FA-18F Super Hornet fighter will be equipped with improved US-made surface-to-air missiles by 2024, three years ahead of schedule, according to the revised schedule. With the JASSM-ER missile, the fighter will be able to hit targets at a range of 900 kilometres.
The Norwegian-made Kongsberg NSM missile will be installed on Australia’s ANZAC-class frigates and Hobart-class destroyers by 2024, five years ahead of schedule. Warships will be able to double their attack range with these missiles.
The move by Australia comes after the Pacific island nation of Solomon recently announced a security agreement with China. According to observers, the terms of the agreement suggest that China is about to establish its first military base in the Pacific island nation. Australia, which has long considered the South Pacific to be its “backyard,” has expressed concern about the looming competition for influence with China.
China denies wanting a military presence in the Solomon Islands and accuses others of escalating tensions.
The agreement between China and the Solomon Islands, according to US Pacific Fleet commander Samuel Paparo, is “very concerning,” especially for Australia and New Zealand.