Australia is purchasing 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can be launched from ships or submarines for land-based strikes.
Australia plans to buy up to 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States after the US State Department approved the sale in a deal worth nearly $900 million.
The deal, which the Pentagon says will cover up to 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles and technical support, comes just days after Australia announced it would buy three nuclear-powered attack submarines — with an option to acquire two more — from the U.S. amid concerns about China’s growing growth. military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
Australian officials said the new nuclear-powered submarines could launch Tomahawk missiles.
“Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific,” the statement said The US Department of Defense said in a statement Friday. Australia’s strategic location “contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region,” the department said.
“By deploying the Tomahawk weapons system, Australia will contribute to global preparedness and enhance the capability of US forces operating alongside them globally,” it said. The Tomahawks – jet-powered cruise missiles used primarily by the US and UK – are estimated to cost $895 million.
“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not change the military base balance in the region,” the defense ministry added.
Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said Australia needed longer-range missiles.
“Ensuring that we have extended range missiles is a very important opportunity for the country,” Marles told Australia’s Channel Nine. “It allows us to reach beyond our coasts, which is ultimately how we can keep Australia safe.”
Pat Conroy, Australia’s minister for defense industry, international development and the Pacific, said the missiles could be launched from the Virginia-class submarines Australia has announced it will buy from the US.
“We certainly want the best possible capability for the Australian Defense Force, so that includes the ability to hit opponents as far from the Australian mainland as possible,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “The cruise missiles are a crucial part of that.” , just like the submarines they launch,” Conroy said.
“We are facing the greatest strategic uncertainty since 1945. We are facing a regional arms race and a responsible government like ours is dealing with it by investing in the best possible capability,” he said.
“This is how we promote peace and stability, by questioning any potential adversary,” he added.
Building nuclear submarines will transform – and provide for – our manufacturing sector and scientific community #yourADF with the power we need.
Great to travel around the country with @RichardMarlesMP & VADM Mead this week & to talk to @cpyne today about the possibilities. pic.twitter.com/7Ju3KC8T99
— MP by Pat Conroy (@PatConroy1) March 17, 2023
Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating this week launched a scathing attack on the submarine deal, saying it “must be the worst deal in all history” because of the huge cost.
Australian officials have estimated the cost of the submarines to be between Australian dollars 268 billion and 368 billion ($178 billion to $245 billion) over a 30-year period.
Officials have also pointed out that investment in the submarine project, which will eventually see Australia and the UK co-develop a new submarine model, will create some 20,000 jobs in Australia.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government was transparent about the cost of the project.
“The assessment that needs to be made is whether the purchase, and then we build our own nuclear-powered submarines, increases the capacity for us to defend ourselves by more than 10 percent? You bet it is,” Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“Therefore it represents good value.”
Japan also announced plans last month to upgrade its military in an effort to deter China, including the purchase of 400 Tomahawk cruise missiles for deployment in 2026.