The US, UK and Australia will co-operate on the development of hypersonic weapons, expanding a trilateral security pact designed to help Washington and its allies respond to China’s rapid expansion of its military.
President Joe Biden is preparing to unveil the expansion of the so-called Aukus security pact with Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, and Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, according to three people familiar with the situation. One of the people said an announcement could come as early as Tuesday in Washington.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The push to co-operate on the development of hypersonic weapons marks the latest effort to increase co-operation between the three countries to counter the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific. Last year, the states signed a pact for the US and UK to help Australia obtain nuclear-powered submarines.
The agreement comes as the Pentagon steps up efforts on hypersonic weapons after recognising that China has leapt ahead in development of the technology. China has conducted several hundred tests of hypersonic missiles, which fly at more than five times the speed of sound. That is far more than the US military, which has carried out less than a dozen tests.
The FT previously reported that China last year flew a hypersonic weapon around the earth that was boosted into space on a rocket. The weapon — known as a hypersonic glide vehicle — fired a projectile as it flew over the South China Sea. Pentagon military scientists were stunned that China had overcome some of the constraints of the laws of physics that make it very hard to fire a missile from a weapon travelling at such speeds.
In a recent interview with the FT Admiral John Aquilino, head of Indo-Pacific Command, and General James Dickinson, head of Space Command, said the US and Australia were boosting co-operation in space and cyber, partly because of the growing concern about Chinese hypersonic…
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