The US, Australia and the UK have expedited the submarine development work as part of the trilateral security pact to acquire nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.
This was confirmed by the US Department of Defense (DoD) in a media statement, which was released after the first joint ministerial meeting at Pentagon on 7 December.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin III together with British counterpart Ben Wallace and Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles discussed the trilateral Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) security pact, which was announced in September last year.
During the meeting, the officials reviewed the latest progress of associated work being carried out under this agreement to provide ‘conventionally-armed’ nuclear powered submarines to Australia.
Marles said: “AUKUS is a partnership built on trust, commitment and determination in the service of a secure and stable Indo-Pacific.”
Austin said: “The US is committed to ensuring that Australia acquires this capability at earliest possible date and in adherence with the highest non-proliferation standards.”
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Other areas of discussion included the development of advanced capabilities, such undersea intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, hypersonic weapons and autonomous systems.
The objective of capability development will be fulfilled by engaging several defence industry partners and academic organisations from the beginning of 2023.
Wallace said: “AUKUS reflects the unique level of trust and cooperation the UK shares with its US and Australian partners, and I look forward to enhancing our technologies and capabilities together.”
Besides, the three officials planned to conduct joint military exercises over the next two years to enhance interoperability between the trilateral forces.
In September this year, Wallace announced that the Royal Navy will provide training to the Royal Australian Navy’s crews aboard the UK’s newly commissioned Astute-class submarine, HMS Anson.