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Tuesday March 05, 2024

Eyeing China, AUKUS chiefs tout deep space radar, AI in joint deal

By AFP
December 03, 2023

MOUNTAIN VIEW, United States: The defence chiefs of the United States, Australia and Britain met in California on Friday, touting high-tech co-operation on deep space radar, AI and quantum computing systems aimed at bolstering their armed forces in the face of growing global threats, including from China.

The three men huddled in Silicon Valley -- the heart of the US tech sector -- to build on the so-called AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) partnership launched in September 2021 that is aimed at offering a Western counterweight to assertiveness from regimes in Moscow and Beijing.

A nuclear-powered submarine used by the Chinese navy. Aukus partners say AI will be used to improve ‘anti-submarine warfare capabilities’. — China Stringer Network
A nuclear-powered submarine used by the Chinese navy. Aukus partners say AI will be used to improve ‘anti-submarine warfare capabilities’. — China Stringer Network

“Today just underscores that AUKUS is a once in a generation opportunity that will promote peace and security throughout the Indo-Pacific,” US Secretary of defence Lloyd Austin told reporters.

Agreements will enable the three countries “to develop and deliver advanced capabilities so that our warfighters can hear, see, and act with decisive advantage.”

The tripartite gathering is the latest step in a strengthening alliance that has already seen agreements for Canberra to buy at least three nuclear-powered Virginia-class submarines and for Britain and Australia to build a new model involving US technology.

On Friday, the focus was on the cutting edge, including the development of what they called a “Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability” program, which will see radar detection sites in all three countries by the end of the decade, with the capacity to peer 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) into space.

“Today´s meeting will be regarded as a critical moment in the history of Pillar Two of AUKUS and that is the sharing and development of advanced technologies between our three countries,” Australian defence Minister Richard Marles told a joint press conference.

He said that in addition to deep space radar, there would be coordination on quantum technologies to aid with navigation and weapons direction, as well as “resilient artificial intelligence which in turn will give rise to resilient precision targeting.”

Marles brushed off suggestions that US alliances were vulnerable to the whims of elections, such as a possible return to the White House by Donald Trump, insisting that AUKUS had cross-party support in all three nations.

British defence Secretary Grant Shapps hailed the strength of the relationship, which he said was more important than ever.

“Today, in a much more dangerous world, 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,” he said.

While the three countries have long been allies, the tightening of ties has unsettled Beijing, which bristles at what it sees as attempts to contain it.