On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson unveiled the AUKUS security alliance “to protect and defend” the three countries’ “shared interests in the Indo-Pacific”.
Washington and Canberra have agreed on bolstering bilateral military collaboration that will include the “rotational deployment” of all types of American warplanes to Australia.
The move comes a day after the two countries along with the UK announced the creation of the so-called AUKUS defence alliance, which, in particular, stipulates arming Australia with a nuclear-powered submarine fleet.
The AUKUS pact prompted Australia to withdraw from a $90 billion submarine contract with France’s Naval Group, in what French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described as “a stab in the back”. Despite China not being mentioned in a statement about the pact’s creation, the defence alliance is widely seen as an effort to contain Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton stressed that Canberra and Washington would be “significantly enhancing” bilateral “force posture cooperation, increasing interoperability, and deepening alliance activities in the Indo-Pacific”.
He said that aside from “greater air cooperation”, the sides also “established combined logistics sustainment and capability for maintenance to support our enhanced activities, including logistics and sustainment capability for our submarines and surface combatants in Australia”.
Dutton was echoed by his US counterpart Lloyd Austin who said that Thursday’s ministerial meeting had endorsed “major force-posture initiatives that will expand our access and presence in Australia”.