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Australia to spend $1.3bn on missiles in AUKUS deal


Australia will acquire hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US as part of the AUKUS security pact.

The Pentagon has approved the sale of 220 of the missiles at a cost of $1.3 billion in a deal that will also include technical support.

The sale of the missiles follows Australia’s announcement to acquire multiple nuclear submarines under the US-Britain alliance at a cost of up to $368 billion.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said Australia would work closely with the United States to get more missile capacity.

“It’s a really important part of what we need to do with our stance, which is have more projection ability,” he told Nine’s. Today Friday program.

“Making sure we have longer-range attack missiles is a really important capability for the country. It allows us to reach beyond our shores and ultimately this is how we can keep Australia safe.”

Defense Industry Minister Pat Conroy said the missiles could be fired from the US Virginia-class submarines Australia would procure under AUKUS.

“We certainly want the best possible capability for the Australian Defense Force, which includes the ability to attack opponents as far away from the Australian mainland as possible,” he told ABC TV.

“Cruise missiles are a critical part of that, as are the submarines that launch them.”

The missile announcement follows criticism by former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating of the submarine deal. Former Labor cabinet minister and Midnight Oil leader Peter Garrett endorsed Keating on Thursday.

“This deal sucks, with massive cost, loss of independence, weakening of nuclear safeguards and more,” he tweeted.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said that despite the criticism, the Coalition would back the security partnership.

“We’ve all been at the end of Paul Keating’s sprays, but this week was a special effort,” he said.

“It is in the best interest of our country. That is why we negotiated AUKUS and we will do everything we can to help the government overcome the family dispute.”

Marles said the attacks on AUKUS weren’t surprising, but the submarine deal was the right move.

“We’ll make sure we deal with all of that, but at the end of the day, we’re focused on talking to the Australian people like we do to our own nightclub,” he said.

-with AAP