Australia announced on Monday that it will purchase Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US worth $1.3 billion to enhance its long-range defense capability.
According to a statement from Australia's Defense Ministry, the government has allocated a budget of more than $1.7 billion for the procurement of the "most powerful" and technologically "most advanced" weapon systems.
"Australia will become one of only three nations to possess a Tomahawk long-range strike capability when it purchases more than 200 of the cruise missiles from the United States for the Royal Australian Navy's Hobart-class destroyers," the statement added.
It further said that over 60 extended-range anti-radiation guided missiles will be purchased for use in Growler, Super Hornet, and F-35A fighter aircraft, totaling $431 million.
Also, Australia will allocate over $50 million for equipping Boxer armored vehicles with anti-tank guided missiles.
The delivery of the first Spike guided missile is expected to take place in the beginning of next year, according to the statement.
Australia considering options for domestic missile production
"The acquisition of some of the most powerful and technologically advanced weapons systems the Australian Defense Force has fielded will enhance Australia's ability to target enemies at longer ranges,” the statement said.
Australia is working on creating possibilities for "domestic manufacturing, it added.
Defense Minister Richard Marles stressed the necessity for capabilities such as long-range strike missiles and other guided weaponry within the Australian Defense Force “to be able to hold an adversary at risk further from our shores.”
“We are investing in the capabilities our Defense Force needs to hold our adversaries at risk further from our shores and keep Australians safe in the complex and uncertain world in which we live today,” Marles said.
He further added that Russia-Ukraine war has proved the significance of possessing not only wartime reserves but also a domestic missile production sector.
“We are also considering options to manufacture missiles domestically because of the importance of building sovereign Australian defense manufacturing capabilities,” Defense Industry Minister Pat Conroy said.
With acquisition of Tomahawk missiles, Australia will join the ranks as the third nation globally, following the US and the UK, to include these missiles in its arsenal.
On March 17, the US State Department announced the approval for the sale of around 220 Tomahawk missiles to Australia.
The Tomahawk missiles are intended to be fired from the Virginia-class submarines planned to be acquired under the AUKUS agreement, according to the statement.
AUKUS submarine pact
In October 2021, Australia signed the AUKUS agreement with the US and the UK, which involves cooperation in the field of nuclear submarine technology.
Under the AUKUS pact, named after the initials of the three countries, plans are in place to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines at shipyards in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.
According to the agreement, Australia's nuclear-powered submarines will be used to support stability in the Indo-Pacific region and to contribute to the preservation of shared values and interests of the countries involved in the agreement.
China criticized the AUKUS pact, saying that it would seriously undermine regional peace and stability due to its alleged response against Beijing's growing military presence in the Indo-Pacific region.