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AUKUS partners laud SSN progress, eye uncrewed ISR collaboration

AUKUS partners laud SSN progress, eye uncrewed ISR collaboration

A joint statement has been issued outlining the “exceptional progress” of the trilateral security partnership, as well as plans to bolster collaboration on the development of autonomous capability.

A joint statement has been issued outlining the “exceptional progress” of the trilateral security partnership, as well as plans to bolster collaboration on the development of autonomous capability.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles has met with his counterparts from the United States and the United Kingdom to discuss the progress of the AUKUS partnership, first established in September 2021.   

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosted the Deputy PM and the UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace in Washington.

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The trio lauded the progress of negotiations surrounding the selection of a preferred pathway for the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines to the Royal Australian Navy, adding a final decision is expected in “early 2023”. 

“The secretaries and deputy prime minister highlighted the exceptional progress that has been made on trilateral efforts to identify the optimal path for Australia to acquire conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability at the earliest possible date,” the statement read. 

The AUKUS partners reaffirmed their shared commitment to “accelerate near-term delivery of technologies” in a bid to enhance capability and interoperability.

Notably, the trio outlined plans to explore advanced trilateral maritime undersea intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, leveraging the nations’ respective autonomous systems to enhance maritime domain awareness. 

Accordingly, the nations have agreed to “intensify engagement” with defence industry and academic communities as of the start of 2023.

“Deeper government, academic, and defence industrial base cooperation on advanced systems will require sustained efforts to continue to improve information and technology sharing,” the trio noted.

“The secretaries and deputy prime minister reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing work within national systems to enable more robust sharing in these areas.”

The AUKUS counterparts concluded by stressing that the strategic partnership would complement the existing regional architecture, including ASEAN and the Pacific Islands Forum. 

The meeting — the first in-person meeting since the inception of AUKUS — was one element of Deputy PM Marles’ trip to the United States and Japan alongside Foreign Minister Penny Wong.

Discussions with Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Minister of Defense Yasukazu Hamada are expected to centre on progressing the renewed Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, signed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in October.

[Related: Marles touts regional benefits of AUKUS capability]

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