US and Australia join forces to develop hypersonic missiles as tensions with China SOAR

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Hypersonic missiles can travel at more than five times the speed of sound and are difficult to track due to their manoeuvrability and altitude. The move also counters the progress of Russia’s development of hypersonic devices.

Reuters reports Australia has earmarked £5billion pounds (A$9.3 billion) to develop high-speed, long-range missile defence systems, including hypersonic research.

The US announced the partnership on Sunday, declaring it “a true testament to the enduring friendship” between the two nations.

Australia’s defence minister Linda Reynolds said on Tuesday: “We will continue to invest in advanced capabilities to give the Australian Defence Force more options to deter aggression against Australia’s interest.”

Defence analysts say China has deployed, or is close to deploying, hypersonic systems armed with conventional warheads.

Russia deployed its first hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles last year and China has deployed, or is close to deploying, hypersonic systems armed with conventional warheads, Reuters said.

The Pentagon aims to field hypersonic war-fighting capabilities in the early to mid-2020s.

The bilateral effort of Australia and the US is named the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE).

Tensions between Australia and China have skyrocketed of late.

The latest issue concerns China’s foreign ministry spokesperson sharing a fake image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child.

China has refused to apologise, instead accusing Australia of attempting “to deflect public attention from the horrible atrocities” of certain soldiers.

It followed the release of a damning report into alleged war crimes by Australian soldiers and has been branded “repugnant” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

China’s ongoing trade war with the US also shows no sign of slowing down after the eastern giant introduced new laws stopping the export of “controlled items”.

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The measures follow moves by the US to restrict tech firms such as Huawei.

The law is similar to the US Export Administration Regulations.

On a list of controlled items is nuclear, technology and military items while anyone who intends to export requires a licence.

It means China can retaliate against nations they deem to have endangered national security.

The UK has ignored China’s request to reconsider banning Huawei from its 5G telecom rollout following President Trump’s US election defeat.

But the UK has set a date for the ban – September 2021.

A new report, published on Tuesday, said NATO must think harder about how to handle China and its military rise.

The report, revealed by Reuters, said Russia will remain its main challenge.

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