Australia will buy Tomahawk missiles that can be launched from ships or submarines in a deal worth almost $900 million.
Australia plans to buy up to 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US after the US State Department approved the sale in a deal worth about $900 million.
The deal, which the Pentagon said includes up to 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles and technical support, comes days after Australia announced it would buy three nuclear-powered attack submarines with an option for two more from the U.S. from , due to China’s growing concern. military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
Australian officials have said the new nuclear-powered submarines will be able to fire Tomahawk missiles.
“Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific,” the US Department of Defense said in a statement on Friday. Australia’s strategic location “significantly contributes to peace and economic stability in the region,” the department said.
“By deploying the Tomahawk weapon system, Australia will contribute to global preparedness and enhance the capabilities of US forces operating alongside them around the world,” the statement said. Tomahawks, the jet-powered cruise missiles used primarily by the US and UK, will cost around $895 million.
“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” the Defense Ministry added.
Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles has said that Australia requires longer-range missiles.
“Making sure we have longer-range ballistic missiles is a really important capability for the country,” Marles told Australia’s Channel Nine. “It allows us to go further beyond our shores and ultimately that’s how we can keep Australia safe.”
Australia’s Minister for Defense Industry, International Development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, said the missiles could be launched from Virginia-class submarines, which Australia has announced it will buy from the United States.
“We certainly want the best possible capabilities for the Australian Defense Force, which includes being able to strike adversaries as far away from the Australian mainland as possible,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “Cruise missiles are an important part of that. , as well as the submarines that launch them,” Conroy said.
“We are facing the greatest strategic uncertainty since 1945. We are facing a regional arms race and a responsible government like ours is dealing with it by investing in the best possible capabilities,” he said.
“This is how we promote peace and stability by putting question marks in the minds of any potential adversaries,” he added.
The construction of nuclear submarines will transform our manufacturing industry and scientific community, as well as provide #YourADF with the capacity we need.
Great for traveling the country @RichardMarlesMP: & VADM Mead this week & to chat @cpyne: about opportunities today. pic.twitter.com/7Ju3KC8T99
— Pat Conroy MP (@PatConroy1) March 17, 2023
Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating launched a blistering attack on the submarine deal this week, saying it “has got to be the worst deal in history” because of the huge cost.
Australian officials have estimated the cost of the submarines at between A$268 billion and A$368 billion ($178 billion to $245 billion) over 30 years.
Officials also said the investment in the submarine project, which will eventually see Australia and Britain jointly develop a new submarine model, would create about 20,000 jobs in Australia.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government had been transparent about the cost of the project.
“The assessment that needs to be made is that buying and then building our own nuclear-powered submarines increases our defense capability by more than 10 percent. You bet it is,” Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“That’s why it represents good value.”
Last month, Japan also announced plans to modernize its military to deter China, including the purchase of 400 Tomahawk cruise missiles for deployment as soon as 2026.