Australia 'binds to US chariot' by developing hypersonic missiles
Published: Dec 02, 2020 08:14 PM

The guided-missile frigate Dingzhou attached to a frigate flotilla with the navy under the PLA Northern Theater Command fires a chaff round against a sea target during a recent maritime live-fire training exercise. ( by Wang Guangjie)

After Australia announced plans to develop hypersonic cruise missiles with its ally the US on Tuesday, Chinese military experts said on Wednesday that China has no intention to make Australia a "military foe" but the latest move of developing missiles with the US could make Australia a potential threat to China. 

Australia will jointly develop hypersonic cruise missiles with the US in a bid to counter China and Russia, which are developing similar weapons, Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said on Tuesday, CNN reported.

"We will continue to invest in advanced capabilities to give the Australian Defense Force more options to deter aggression against Australia's interests," Reynolds said in a statement.

She did not reveal the cost of developing the missiles or when they would be operational. Australia had set aside up to 9.3 billion Australian dollars ($6.8 billion) this year for high-speed, long-range missile defense systems, including hypersonic research.

This is not the first time Australia has announced its ambitions in hypersonic missiles. In the 2020 Defense Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan released in July, the country's Department of Defense said it would invest heavily in weapons including hypersonic missiles.

Chinese military experts reached by the Global Times said that many of the technologies will come from the US, so intelligence exchanges with the US military will be easy, they said, noting that Australia's geographic location means it can become a key base for the US military in the direction of the South China Sea.

China has no intention of making Australia, which is far away and has no military tensions with China, a military foe. But if Australia develops and deploys aggressive weapons such as hypersonic missiles under the influence of the US, it is binding itself to the US chariot and could become a threat to China, analysts said. If Australia wants to provoke China, China is also ready to defend itself.

The weapon jointly developed by Australia and the US is capable of being carried by tactical fighter aircraft such as the F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-35A Lightning II, as well as the P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft, according to the Defense News.

Hypersonic missiles are largely immune to current missile defense systems around the world due to a speed faster than Mach 5 and the capability to travel at unpredictable trajectories and adjust trajectories in mid-flight. It is widely believed that China's DF-17 missile, which made its debut at the National Day military parade on October 1, 2019, is a hypersonic weapon, and reports suggest more hypersonic missiles are under development in China.

"The hypersonic weapon is a challenge to every country's national defense, and if Australia and the US successfully develop such weapons, China and Russia will definitely find countermeasures," said Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator.

China is developing directed-energy weapons, such as a laser weapon, and these high-tech weapons are believed to be able to effectively intercept hypersonic missiles, Song noted.