Widened AUKUS deal includes AI, space techs against China, triggering arms race fear
Sensitive three-way deal triggers fear of arms race: experts
Published: Dec 03, 2023 06:56 PM Updated: Dec 03, 2023 09:51 PM
A submarine attached to a naval submarine flotilla under the PLA Northern Theater Command steams in the sea during a training exercise recently in waters of the Yellow Sea. Photo: China Military

A submarine attached to a naval submarine flotilla under the PLA Northern Theater Command steams in the sea during a training exercise recently in waters of the Yellow Sea. Photo: China Military

Using the "China threat" as an excuse to build hegemony, the US, the UK and Australia are reportedly expanding their AUKUS military cooperation from nuclear-powered submarines to anti-submarine systems featuring drones and artificial intelligence (AI) as well as space tracking, all of which are sensitive fields that risk triggering an arms race, experts warned on Sunday.

Defense chiefs from the US, the UK and Australia on Friday met at the US military's defense technology hub in Silicon Valley to forge a new agreement to increase technology cooperation and information sharing in the next step toward widening the AUKUS partnership among the three countries, the AP reported on Saturday.

The enhanced cooperation has been "driven by growing concerns about China's burgeoning defense spending and rapidly expanding military presence in the region," the AP claimed.

In addition to nuclear-powered submarines in the original AUKUS deal, the new agreement will set up a series of military exercises involving the use of undersea and surface maritime drones and improve the ability of the three countries to share intelligence and data collected by their sonobuoys, which are used to detect submarines and other objects in the water, the AP report said.  

AI will be used, including on P-8A surveillance aircraft, to more quickly process data from the buoys in order to improve anti-submarine warfare, AP reported. 

In late November, The Wall Street Journal ran a report claiming that China is narrowing one of the largest gaps dividing the US and Chinese militaries as it makes advances in its submarine technology and undersea detection capabilities, and the cooperation among the three countries likely wants to stress this issue, observers said.

Applying AI technologies will enable the US, the UK and Australia to integrate their anti-submarine systems, including data gathered by their submarines, anti-submarine aircraft, surface vessels and others, and make faster, more accurate judgments in searching for and attacking hostile submarines in joint anti-submarine operations, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The three countries will establish new radar sites to beef up their ability to detect and track objects in deep space, according to the AP report.

With the US now having a space force, it will obtain more space monitoring capabilities from the UK and Australia by data and intelligence sharing, and prepare for potential joint space military operations, Wei said.

In essence, the goal of such cooperation is to build a small military clique of hegemony under the excuse of the "China threat," so the three countries can strengthen defense cooperation, expand military power and make provocative moves, Wei said.

Another Chinese military expert, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Sunday that the original AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine deal has already threatened nuclear nonproliferation, and now the three countries are adding very sensitive projects like military-purposed AI and space militarization.

These projects among the AUKUS countries could not only lead to a dangerous arms race in the region, but also set up a bad example in the world, the expert said.

The international community should see through the three countries' hegemonic aim and raise high alert over their military schemes, analysts said.