AUKUS: United States agrees to sell 220 Tomahawk missiles to Australia

Brisbane, Australia

The US State Department has approved Australia’s request to purchase up to 220 long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles to arm its Navy ships and US nuclear-powered submarines it has agreed to deploy. buy this week.

According to a statement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the deal will cost up to 1.3 billion Australian dollars ($895 million), including maintenance and logistical support.

“The proposed sale will enhance Australia’s ability to interact with US maritime forces and other allied forces as well as its ability to contribute to missions of mutual interest,” the statement added.

The acquisition is part of the AUKUS agreement between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, a three-way pact to share technology and resources to build a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines in the over the next two decades.

As part of the larger deal, the United States will sell at least three Virginia-class submarines to Australia. Additionally, Australia and the UK will build their own fleets of new nuclear-powered submarines to bolster allied capabilities in the Indo-Pacific, where China has built its military assets.

First deployed during the Gulf War in 1991, Tomahawk missiles fly at extremely low altitudes at high subsonic speeds and are controlled by multiple mission-appropriate guidance systems. According to the US Navy, they can be launched from US- and UK-made submarines, as well as from US Navy ships.

So far only the UK has purchased Tomahawks from the US, but recently Japan announced plans to purchase hundreds of missiles, which cover a range of over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles), to strengthen its defense capabilities.

Australian Defense Minister Pat Conroy told the country’s national broadcaster, the ABC, on Friday that the Tomahawks could be used by the Australian Defense Force (ADF) ahead of the scheduled delivery of the first of three sub -Virginia-class sailors manufactured in the United States in 2033.

When the AUKUS deal was first announced in 2021, the Australian government said it was looking for Tomahawks to equip the Royal Australian Navy’s Hobart-class destroyers.

“It’s part of this government’s program to give the ADF the best possible capability, to give it a greater ability to deliver a long-range strike and hold off any potential adversary,” Conroy told AFP. ABC. “This is how we promote peace and stability by putting question marks in the minds of any potential adversary.”

While the multibillion-dollar AUKUS deal enjoys the support of Australia’s two main political parties, it was sharply criticized this week by former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating.

In a statement, Keating, who was the country’s leader between 1991 and 1996, called it “the worst international decision taken by an Australian Labor government” in more than 100 years.

“Australia is locking down its next half-century in Asia as a subordinate to the United States, an Atlantic power,” he wrote.

Referring to submarines, Keating said: “The fact is we just don’t need them”, arguing that more diesel-electric submarines – an extension of Australia’s class-leading submarine fleet Collins – would be sufficient to defend the Australian coastline.

The AUKUS deal is expected to cost up to $245 billion (A$368 billion) over 30 years.


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