PM splashes $1b on weapons
Australia will act to urgently upgrade the nation's guided missile arsenal with the Morrison government accelerating the creation of a $1bn sovereign guided weapons facility at a location yet to be determined.
The announcement came amid a growing concern by the government in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to increase the nation's "sovereign capability" in everything from defence to manufacturing to medical supplies.
And it occurs against a backdrop of growing neighbourhood tensions including warnings from a prominent US admiral that China may attempt to invade Taiwan some time in the next six years as well as reports that in a highly classified war game scenario run by the US Air Force, Beijing was able to quickly dominate America in a conflict over the island.
Missiles designed to defend ships, intercept incoming targets, and fight in air-to-air combat are among the weapons that may eventually be produced by the facility.
The investment is only part of the government's planned defence expenditure.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has estimated that Australia will spend $100bn on missiles and guided weapons over the next 20 years.
At the same time, Prime Minister Scott Morrison also released the National Manufacturing Defence Roadmap, designed to leverage defence spending over the next 10 years, which is part of a broader effort to bolster and integrate local manufacturers into supply chains to create what the plan describes as "a capable and sustainable" defence industry.
"Creating our own sovereign capability on Australian soil is essential to keep Australians safe, while also providing thousands of local jobs in businesses right across the defence supply chain," the Prime Minister said.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, having the ability for self-reliance - be it vaccine development or the defence of Australia - is vital to meeting our own requirements in a changing global environment.
"It's imperative we now proceed with the creation of a sovereign guided weapons capability as a priority, accelerating this process following the idea first being explored in the Force Structure Plan."
A number of different strategic partners will be considered to help construct and operate the venture including Raytheon Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, and BAE Systems Australia.
However, it is understood that whoever is chosen will need the ability to coordinate with the US as well as have strong links in the Australian supply chain.
Originally published as PM splashes $1b on weapons