China’s hypersonic missiles are capable of reaching key locations within Australia in a matter of minutes, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has confirmed.
“The Chinese have managed to fly and launch hypersonic missiles around the world. They hit within miles of their target which if you’ve got a nuclear warhead on, it is as good as ‘band on’,” said Joyce, confirming fears raised by Australians.
“This gives an existential threat to Australia. About 14 minutes after they’re launched, they would be able to reach here — think about that,” Joyce stated.
China’s hypersonic missiles cruise at five times the speed of sound, evading most current missile defence systems — like those stationed in the Pacific. It is technology developed specifically to evade current protections.
AUKUS trilateral partners Australia, the United Kingdom, and America announced on April 5 that they would cooperate the create advanced weaponry protection systems in the Pacific and upgrade existing installations. This includes Australia acquiring counter-hypersonics and escalating their data sharing.
The three nations released a joint statement:
“We reaffirmed our commitment to AUKUS and to a free and open Indo-Pacific. In light of Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified, and unlawful invasion of Ukraine, we reiterated our unwavering commitment to an international system that respects human rights, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes free from coercion.
“We are pleased with the progress in our trilateral program for Australia to establish a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability. We are fully committed to establishing a robust approach to sharing naval propulsion technology with Australia that strengthens the global non-proliferation regime.
“We also committed today to commence new trilateral cooperation on hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, and electronic warfare capabilities, as well as to expand information sharing and to deepen cooperation on defense innovation. These initiatives will add to our existing efforts to deepen cooperation on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional undersea capabilities. As our work progresses on these and other critical defence and security capabilities, we will seek opportunities to engage allies and close partners.”
China (of course) condemned the AUKUS announcement, hinting that it could “lead the other parts of the world into crisis” but did not acknowledge that AUKUS was acting in reaction to China’s repeated and sustained escalation of militarisation in the Pacific.
Last year, China denied tests of its hypersonic missile, falsely claiming the event was part of a “routine spacecraft experiment.”
In August of 2021, China’s hypersonic missile circled the earth in low-orbit space before striking its target, Rebel News reported. It missed by 24 miles, but it was still a worrying display of power with one security expert quoted as saying, “We have no idea how they did this.”
Included in the concern voiced by U.S. military chiefs is the potential for China to send its hypersonic glide missiles over the South Pole when all U.S. military missile defence capabilities are focused on North Pole routes.
According to the editor of the Global Times — a state mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party — Hu Xijin Tweeted that Beijing hoped to “ensure that the U.S. abandons the idea of nuclear blackmail against China.”
Using a technology it initially denied having, “This was a routine test of a space vehicle to verify technology of spacecraft’s reuseability,” insisted Zhao Lijian, of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Work continues on Australia’s nuclear submarines. After ditching the failed French project, construction has been accelerated to arm Australia as quickly as possible in expectation of China’s militarisation — including last week’s attempt to station Chinese military assets in the Solomon Islands.
“We’re moving into uncharted territory here when discussing not only cooperation on developing the most advanced military technology, but also the potential for its co-production,” said Charles Edel, Australia Chair and senior adviser at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) claims that it had completed a free-flight test of a hypersonic missile which was able to maintain Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) and that it flew for 555km. America has assigned $4.7 billion for hypersonic weapons over the next two years.
“Asia-Pacific countries should be highly vigilant about this,” said the Chinese Foreign Ministry.