US introduces new AUKUS efforts focused on advanced warfighting

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Friday that the United States is developing and testing advanced combat capabilities with Britain and Australia, marking a leap forward in the second phase of a trilateral alliance between the two countries to strengthen their presence in the Indo-Pacific. It was announced that it was shown.

Mr Austin said the Australia-UK-US alliance, known as AUKUS, was working towards “innovating with cutting-edge technologies” in the defense industry, including artificial intelligence (AI), electronic warfare and quantum technology.

The Pentagon chief met with Australian Defense Minister Richard Mars and British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps on Friday at the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Command headquarters in Mountain View, California.

He said he had productive discussions with Defense Ministers and others and reaffirmed his determination to achieve AUKUS goals.

“AUKUS has proven time and time again that we are stronger together, and each day we move closer to our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Austin said. .

The first pillar of AUKUS will focus on supporting Australia to build its own conventionally armed nuclear submarines by the early 2040s and Canberra to purchase at least three US-built nuclear submarines in the 2030s. There is.

However, the second pillar focuses on advanced warfighting capabilities between the three countries, including a series of experimental exercises with autonomous weapons systems in the waters of the Indo-Pacific region starting in 2024.

A senior U.S. defense official said the series of exercises was “a bold new effort to test, develop, and deliver advanced maritime autonomous systems to warfighters.”

The official said, “We are using AUKUS to rapidly accelerate the sophistication and scale of systems in the maritime field.” “Through AUKUS, we are also building an ecosystem that will enable the three countries to innovate and share information, ideas and capabilities.”

They added that experiments using robotics and autonomous systems will take place in South Australia in October, and that they plan for tighter integration of the systems in land and sea domains next year.

The official pointed to autonomous systems used by Task Force 59, a U.S. Navy task force, as a frame of reference for the exercise. Task Force 59 has reached full operational capability with small AI-powered systems that carry cameras and collect information.

Mr Marles said on Friday that progress was being made “as we speak” on the first pillar of AUKUS, which includes bringing US submarines to Australia, building the necessary infrastructure and training Australian technicians with US personnel. He said that he was being treated as such.

But the defense minister said the second pillar of the alliance “played a central role” in the latest talks this week.

“If we reflect on the importance of today’s meeting, we will see that this was an important meeting that was a watershed moment in the progress of Pillar 2,” said Marles, adding that AUKUS was able to define the country’s “character”. He said it is transformative and empowering.

The second pillar of AUKUS builds on Replicator, a new Department of Defense initiative announced over the summer by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

With Replicator, the Department of Defense is advancing the development and fielding of thousands of autonomous systems within two years, facilitating major advances in the defense industry to achieve ambitious goals.

This week, the Department of Defense also announced the creation of a new task force comprised of government and defense industry representatives from the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom to accelerate the development of advanced systems and combat capabilities under Pillar 2.

President Biden announced AUKUS in 2021 to significantly strengthen U.S. posture in the Indo-Pacific and tout a new vision for the alliance to counter China’s growing military power.

In March, Mr Biden laid out a firm path for Australia to develop and acquire nuclear submarines, starting with a training program for Australian sailors to work with the US and British navies in submarine ports this year.

The US also began increasing visits by US nuclear submarines to Australia in 2023.

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