Today’s announcement of the trilateral security partnership between Australia, US and the UK (AUKUS) has been welcomed by UNSW’s Defence Research Institute.

UNSW Defence Research Institute Director Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison (ret’d) said the alliance was good news for UNSW’s defence and security community.

“This establishes a new inner circle of trust among the 5-Eyes nations, which purposely leaves New Zealand and Canada on the outside looking in,” Vice-Admiral Maddison said.

“The significance of the US decision to share nuclear submarine propulsion technology with Australia cannot be overstated. It places Australia at the front of the queue, alongside the UK, as Washington’s most trusted and respected strategic partner.

“The challenges associated with introducing nuclear propulsion into the RAN will be huge, and the path from today’s announcement to seeing Australian-built nuclear-powered combat-capable submarines flying the White Ensign on the west coast will be fraught with complex technical, training, financial, workforce and political hurdles.”

Vice-Admiral Maddison said the cancellation of the preceding $90 billion submarine deal with France would cause an “instant deep freeze” in Australia’s strategic relationship with the country.

“The adverse impacts on research funding in South Australia could be significant, especially those involving partnerships with France’s Naval Group (including at UNSW),” he said.

Beyond the AUKUS’s submarine initiative, Vice-Admiral Maddison said the news would generate new opportunities for US, UK and Australian research teams to work more effectively together in their collective national security interest.

“Perhaps most important for UNSW in the AUKUS announcement is language around enhanced collaboration in developing defence capabilities in the fields of AI, cyber, hypersonics, quantum technologies and others,” Vice-Admiral Maddison said.

“There is recognition in defence circles that current international defence sharing processes are no longer fit for the purpose of accelerating the creation of new competitive advantage military capability across the Technical Readiness Levels (TRL).”

He said legislative, regulatory, cultural and strategic trust deficits in national capitals have combined to make seamless collaboration outside of special projects very difficult. 

“The UNSW Defence Research Institute is well-positioned to engage with Defence and our US/UK partners to gain more traction for our researchers in contributing to the long-term success of the alliance,” Vice-Admiral Maddison said.

Photo: Obtained from Wikimedia under a Creative Common license.