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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.

23 mins ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."