US, UK, Australia pledge to work on hypersonic missiles

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley
Associated Press/Alex Brandon

The United States, United Kingdom and Australia on Tuesday pledged to work together to develop hypersonic missiles as part of a security pact between the three countries announced last year.  

The leaders of the three countries said in a joint statement that they pledged “to commence new trilateral cooperation on hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, and electronic warfare capabilities.”  

A fact sheet released by the White House said the group will “work together to accelerate development of advanced hypersonic and counter-hypersonic capabilities.” 

The U.S., U.K. and Australia launched the AUKUS trilateral security partnership in September to deepen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The pact is widely viewed as an effort to counter China’s military advancements and growing influence in the region.  

China tested a hypersonic weapon system last year, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley confirmed during a television interview at the time. The U.S. and Russia have also sought to develop hypersonic missiles.  

CNN reported on Tuesday that the U.S. successfully tested a hypersonic missile last month but kept it under wraps in order to avoid escalating tensions with Russia amid the war in Ukraine. 

As part of the partnership, the U.S. and U.K. are helping Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines. That element of the pact angered France when it was announced last year because it resulted in Paris losing out on a lucrative defense contract to deliver submarines to Australia.  

Through the security partnership, the three countries are also cooperating on emerging technology like cyber, artificial intelligence and quantum technology.  

The statement Tuesday said that President Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison assessed progress under the agreement on Tuesday and affirmed their commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” 

“In light of Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified, and unlawful invasion of Ukraine, we reiterated our unwavering commitment to an international system that respects human rights, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes free from coercion,” the statement read. 

Updated 1:25 p.m.

Tags Biden Boris Johnson Joe Biden Mark Milley Scott Morrison
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