A landmark defence and security partnership has been agreed by the leaders of the UK, the United States and Australia - AUKUS - which will protect and defend the countries' shared interests in the Indo-Pacific.
Image courtesy MoD
Under the ‘AUKUS’ alliance, the partners will enhance the development of joint capabilities and technology sharing, ensuring their citizens are kept safe from harm and reinforcing their shared goals. AUKUS will foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains.
AUKUS is a concrete articulation of the UK’s ambition, made in the Integrated Review, to deepen defence, security and foreign policy ties with like-minded allies across the globe. The agreement reflects the unique level of trust and cooperation between the three countries, who already share extensive intelligence through the Five Eyes alliance.
The first initiative under AUKUS will be a collaboration on future nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. This capability will promote stability in the Indo-Pacific and will be deployed in support of the three countries' shared values and interests.
The UK has built and operated nuclear-powered submarines for over 60 years. The UK will therefore bring deep expertise and experience to the project through, for example, the work carried out by Rolls Royce near Derby and BAE Systems in Barrow.
The initial scoping phase for the new endeavour is expected to take 18 months. The design and build process will create hundreds of highly skilled scientific and engineering roles across the UK and drive investment in some of our most high-tech sectors.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "The UK, Australia and US are natural allies – while we may be separated geographically, our interests and values are shared. The AUKUS alliance will bring us closer than ever, creating a new defence partnership and driving jobs and prosperity.
"This partnership will become increasingly vital for defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific region and, by extension, protecting our people back at home."
The UK and US are already leading members of NATO – the world’s most important defence alliance. The work done by AUKUS will support our shared goals in new regions, promoting stability and protecting our people against new and emerging threats.
In recent years, the UK and Australia have increased collaboration on defence. The Royal Australian Navy is procuring up to nine of the UK’s Type 26 frigates, allowing our defence forces to operate together more than ever before. Our militaries, including the Royal Gurkha Rifles, have also undertaken joint training exercises.
In recent weeks the UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier has been deployed to the Indo-Pacific region alongside personnel and equipment from the US. Last month the Carrier Strike Group undertook a series of exercises with countries including Australia to build interoperability with like-minded partners.
As set out in the Integrated Review, the Indo-Pacific is at the centre of intensifying geopolitical competition with potential flashpoints including unresolved territorial disputes; to nuclear proliferation and miscalculation; to climate change and non-state threats from terrorism and Serious Organised Crime. It is on the frontline of new security challenges, including in cyberspace.
The agreement also signals further trilateral collaboration under AUKUS to enhance the countries' joint capabilities and interoperability. These initial efforts will focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional undersea capabilities.