Australia aims to start making guided missiles within two years
A U.S. Marine Corps High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems with HIMARS platoon, Marine Rotational Force - Darwin, retrogrades to a safe location after firing a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System during an emergency fire mission during Exercise Koolendong at Bradshaw Field Training Area, NT, Australia, Aug. 29, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Master Sgt. Sarah Nadeau via U.S. Defense Visual Information Distribution Service)
SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australiasaid on Wednesday it wouldstartdomestic manufacture ofguidedmissilesby 2025,twoyearssooner than expected, in a wide-ranging shakeup of defence arrangements to focus on long-range strike capability.
On Monday, the Labor government said it accepted the recommendations of a defence review that said China had launched the largest military buildup of any country since the end of World WarTwowithout transparency, and major power competition had "potential for conflict" in the Indo Pacific.
The timetable for domestic manufacture ofguidedweapons, originally set for 2027, will be hastened towithintwoyearsby allocating A$2.5 billion to the project, Defence Minister Richard Marles said in media interviews.
That represents a more than doubling in funding, which is being diverted from cancelled defence projects.
"That does radically shift the timeframe forward in terms of a manufacturing capability," Marles said in a television interview with Nine on Wednesday.
A further A$1.6 billion will be spent on buying long‑range strike systems from overseaswithintwoyears, he said.
The government was already in talks with missile manufacturers Raytheon and Lockheed about establishing production inAustralia, Marles added.
Discussions were also being held with Kongsberg, the Norwegian manufacturer of the naval strike missileAustraliahad already agreed to purchase, he said.
Pat Conroy, the minister for defence industry, said the review recommended acquiring Kongsberg's joint strike missile which would "allow us to look at manufacturing the Strike Missile family ofmissilesinAustralia".
Australiawill work more closely with its security ally, the United States, while boosting diplomacy in the region to deter conflict and step up defence ties with India, Japan, South East Asian nations and Pacific islands, the review said.
(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)