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A Royal Australian Air Force Super Hornet on exercise Nigrum Pugio in Australia in October. The hypersonic missiles will be carried by such planes. Photo: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

The Australian government announced Tuesday it will partner with the U.S. to make hypersonic cruise missiles to rival those being developed by China and Russia.

Details: Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement the government would "continue to invest in advanced capabilities" to give the Australian Defense Force "more options to deter aggression against Australia's interests."

  • The government has "earmarked" AU$9.3 billion ($6.8 billion) for "high-speed long-range strike and missile defence, including hypersonic development, test and evaluation," Reynolds said.
  • She didn't say how much it would cost to develop the air-launched, long-range missiles or when they would be rolled out, but the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the government aims to start testing prototypes "within months."

What they're saying: Both Reynolds and Michael Kratsios, acting under secretary of the U.S. Defense for Research and Engineering, called the joint Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) project "game-changing."

"This initiative will be essential to the future of hypersonic research and development, ensuring the U.S. and our allies lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability."
Kratsios' statement

Of note: The move could further inflame tensions with the Chinese government, which has been at loggerheads with the Trump administration and Australian officials this year on a range of issues, notably the origins of the pandemic.

  • This week, Australia and China have clashed over a Chinese government official's doctored Twitter image depicting an Australian soldier killing an Afghan child.

Go deeper

Jan 19, 2021 - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 1 hour ago - Technology

Apple's quarterly sales top $100 billion for first time

Credit: Apple

Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple reported it took in a record $111 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, as the company crushed expectations.

Why it matters: The move showed even a pandemic didn't dull demand for Apple's latest smartphones.