Artificial intelligence, drones, and deep space radar are among the technologies that will be used by Australia and its Aukus allies to counter China’s aggression in the Pacific.
Australia’s defence minister, Richard Marles, met with his counterparts from the United States and United Kingdom – Lloyd J Austin and Grant Shapps – in California on Saturday to announce the second “pillar” of the Aukus deal.
It came after the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, last month accused a Chinese naval ship of “dangerous, unsafe and unprofessional” behaviour after Australian naval divers were injured by sonar pulses said to have been emitted by a Chinese warship in the international waters off Japan.
Despite Australia’s thawing trade relationship with China, there is ongoing tension over the latter’s presence in the region.
Marles said on Saturday that the incident was “unsafe and unprofessional” and had been raised directly with China.
“We have made public our concerns about the behaviour,” he said.
“It highlights the need for this arrangement and it highlights the need for speed in this arrangement and I think you can see that speed.”
While Australia’s planned acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines has been the main focus of the Aukus pact, the second pillar focuses on advanced technologies.
AI technology will be used on systems – including on P-8A Poseidon aircraft – to process information from sonobuoys, which detect and transmit underwater data, to improve “our anti-submarine warfare capabilities”, according to a joint statement by the ministers.
AI algorithms and machine learning will also be used to “enhance force protection, precision targeting, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance”.
Existing and future submarines will be used to launch and recover undersea vehicles from torpedo tubes, they said, while quantum technology will be deployed to improve positioning, navigation and timing to improve stealth and enable forces to operate even if GPS goes down.
The Aukus partners also said they will be able to detect emerging threats in space with a continuous deep space radar to track objects in deep space.
The trio said they will undertake “a series of integrated trilateral experiments and exercises”, to test and refine the operation of uncrewed maritime systems. They will also share and process maritime data, improve cybersecurity, and launch an annual competition focused on electronic warfare technologies.
In the joint statement, they reaffirmed a “shared resolve to bolster security and stability and ensure that the Indo-Pacific remains a region free from coercion and aggression”.
Marles also dismissed concerns that the possible return of Donald Trump to the White House could threaten Aukus, saying the deal had support “across the political spectrum”.
A recent survey found about four in 10 Australians think the government should ditch the Aukus deal if Trump is elected.
Austin said Aukus would “promote peace and security throughout the Indo-Pacific”, which Shapps suggested had become “much more dangerous”.
“[With] Russia waging war in Ukraine, with Hamas wreaking havoc in the Middle East, China undermining the freedom of navigation in the Indo Pacific – we’ve never had a greater need for more innovation, to be more pioneering,” Shapps said.
Six Royal Australian Naval officers have graduated from the US Nuclear Power School, the joint statement said. Three are also set to graduate from the UK Nuclear Power School in January.
Industry personnel have started working at the US Pearl Harbor Navy and the UK Barrow-in-Furness shipyards to develop the skills to build and sustain nuclear-powered submarines.
The Aukus partners also again committed to nuclear non-proliferation, and welcomed Australia’s decision to appoint an independent nuclear safety regulator.
Source : The Guardian