Australia has accelerated plans to acquire long-range strike missiles ahead of schedule in response to the increasing risks posed by China.
According to the Associated Press, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said on April 5 that the country would spend 3.5 billion Australian dollars ($2.6 billion) on accelerated reaming of fighter jets and warships to increase its military capability against potential enemies.
The revised plan would make FA-18F Super Hornet fighter jets be armed with improved U.S.-manufactured air-to-surface missiles by 2024, three years earlier than scheduled.
Meanwhile, The JASSM-ER missiles would allow fighters to engage targets up to 900 kilometers away (560 miles).
At the same time, Australia’s ANZAC Class frigates and Hobart Class destroyers would be outfitted with Norwegian-made Kongsberg NSM missiles by 2024, five years ahead of plan.
The Defense Minister told Seven Network television that: “There was a working assumption that an act of aggression by China toward Taiwan might take place in the 2040s. I think that timeline now has been dramatically compressed.”
The AP reported that the new rearmament came following the draft agreement on security between the Solomon Islands and China on March 31. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has not disclosed the security pact in detail. The Prime Minister also rejected the concerns sparked by a leaked draft pact, saying that the island would allow China to establish a military base.
However, in response to the Solomon Islands’ act, Dutton stated on April 1 that Beijing had set up 20 points of military bases in the South China Sea. The Communist Regime’s movements have gone against its assurance with the U.S. that it would not militarize the region.
In an interview with Sky News, he said, “They want a military port in PNG [Papua New Guinea]. They’ve got one in Sri Lanka, and they’re looking obviously at other places where they can put them.”
Like Dutton, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Samuel Paparo said that the Solomons-China pact was “very concerning.”
Paparo told Australian Broadcasting Corp reporters on April 4, “I’m undoubtedly concerned … and it’s a concern for all of our partners throughout the western Pacific and notably Australia and New Zealand.”