AUKUS: US agrees to sell 220 Tomahawk missiles to Australia

Brisbane, Australia

The US State Department has approved Australia’s request for up to 220 Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles to equip US Navy ships and US nuclear submarines, which it agreed to buy this week.

According to Statement by the Defense and Security Cooperation Agencythe deal will cost A$1.3 billion ($895 million) including maintenance and logistical support.

“The proposed sale will improve Australia’s ability to interact with the US Navy and other allied forces, as well as its ability to participate in missions of mutual interest,” the statement said.

The acquisition is part of the AUKUS deal between the US, Australia and the UK. trilateral technology and resource exchange pact build a new fleet of nuclear submarines in the next two decades.

As part of a wider deal, the US will sell at least three Virginia-class submarines to Australia. In addition, Australia and the UK will build their own fleets of new nuclear submarines to boost Allied capabilities in the Indo-Pacific. where China is building its military assets.

First deployed during the Gulf War in 1991, Tomahawk missiles fly at extremely low altitudes at high subsonic speeds and are controlled by multiple mission-adapted guidance systems. According to the US Navythey can be launched from U.S. and British-made submarines, as well as from U.S. Navy ships.

So far, only the UK has bought Tomahawks from the US, but lately Japan announced its intention to purchase hundreds missiles that cover a distance of more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) to enhance its defense capability.

Australia will buy at least three Virginia-class submarines from the US.

Australian Defense Minister Pat Conroy told national broadcaster ABC on Friday that Tomahawks could be available for use by the Australian Defense Force (ADF) before the scheduled delivery of the first of three US-built Virginia-class submarines in 2033.

When the AUKUS deal was first announced in 2021, the Australian government said it was seeking Tomahawks to equip the Australian Navy’s Hobart-class destroyers.

“It’s part of this government’s agenda to give the air defense the best possible capability, to give it more ability to strike long-range and keep any potential adversary at bay,” Conroy told ABC. “This is how we promote peace and stability by putting question marks in the minds of any potential adversary.”

While the multibillion-dollar AUKUS deal has the backing of Australia’s two main political parties, it came under fire this week from former Labor Party Prime Minister Paul Keating.

In a statement, Keating, who was the country’s leader from 1991 to 1996, called it “the worst international decision by an Australian Labor government” in over 100 years.

“Australia is closing its next half-century in Asia as a subservient to the United States, the Atlantic power,” he wrote.

Referring to submarines, Keating said, “The point is, we just don’t need them,” arguing that more diesel-electric submarines – an expansion of Australia’s Collins-class submarine fleet – would be enough to protect Australia’s coastline.

The AUKUS deal is expected to be worth up to $245 billion (AU$368 billion) over 30 years.