This is AUKUS for China – US, UK, Australia reveal defence tech-sharing pact

Will build nuke-powered subs together and share cyber, AI, quantum and mysterious 'undersea capabilities' tech


Australia, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom have signed a new defence and technology-sharing pact.

Dubbed AUKUS, the headline item of the pact is assistance from the UK and US to help Australia build nuclear-powered submarines that are interoperable with their own fleets (but do not carry nuclear weapons). Australia's Department of Defence Science and Technology argues [PDF] that subs "can shape or change the behaviour of other nations and their decision-making, which no other Australian Defence Force asset or combination of assets can do".

The only credible regional threat Australia faces is China. Australia previously planned to build diesel-electric subs in conjunction with a French manufacturer – a contract that is about to be terminated without putting a boat in the water. Nuclear-powered boats can run submerged for longer and more quietly, and do not have to vent exhaust gases.

AUKUS is therefore further evidence that the US and UK are keen to contain China.

US President Joe Biden's joint leaders statement that announced AUKUS explained that the pact will also include "further trilateral collaboration" that will initially "focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities."

Just what those "additional undersea capabilities" might be was not explained.

Nor were details offered on promised "deeper integration of security and defense-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains."

Australia, America, and the UK are already members of the Five Eyes security alliance that shares intelligence data (Canada and New Zealand are the others). Now they're also building an interoperable submarine fleet and the tech to make them run.

China, meanwhile, maintains that it has only peaceful intentions. It points out it has not fired a shot in anger for decades (during which time the US and UK fought in, say, Iran and Afghanistan), and that actions like building bases on South China Sea reefs – using claims rejected [PDF] by The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in 2016 – are perfectly reasonable and pose a threat to no nation.

Officials of China's Foreign Ministry are also fond of statements like the tweet below.

China seems certain to find the formation of AUKUS an affront. The US and the UK may also find it awkward, as Australian submarine manufacturing projects are infamous for blowing budgets and deadlines. They are also widely considered domestic exercises in propping up votes in manufacturing-centric seats – a goal only barely secondary to any foreign strategic considerations. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Research finds consumer-grade IoT devices showing up... on corporate networks

    Considering the slack security of such kit, it's a perfect storm

    Increasing numbers of "non-business" Internet of Things devices are showing up inside corporate networks, Palo Alto Networks has warned, saying that smart lightbulbs and internet-connected pet feeders may not feature in organisations' threat models.

    According to Greg Day, VP and CSO EMEA of the US-based enterprise networking firm: "When you consider that the security controls in consumer IoT devices are minimal, so as not to increase the price, the lack of visibility coupled with increased remote working could lead to serious cybersecurity incidents."

    The company surveyed 1,900 IT decision-makers across 18 countries including the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, finding that just over three quarters (78 per cent) of them reported an increase in non-business IoT devices connected to their org's networks.

    Continue reading
  • Huawei appears to have quenched its thirst for power in favour of more efficient 5G

    Never mind the performance, man, think of the planet

    MBB Forum 2021 The "G" in 5G stands for Green, if the hours of keynotes at the Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai are to be believed.

    Run by Huawei, the forum was a mixture of in-person event and talking heads over occasionally grainy video and kicked off with an admission by Ken Hu, rotating chairman of the Shenzhen-based electronics giant, that the adoption of 5G – with its promise of faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency – was still quite low for some applications.

    Despite the dream five years ago, that the tech would link up everything, "we have not connected all things," Hu said.

    Continue reading
  • What is self-learning AI and how does it tackle ransomware?

    Darktrace: Why you need defence that operates at machine speed

    Sponsored There used to be two certainties in life - death and taxes - but thanks to online crooks around the world, there's a third: ransomware. This attack mechanism continues to gain traction because of its phenomenal success. Despite admonishments from governments, victims continue to pay up using low-friction cryptocurrency channels, emboldening criminal groups even further.

    Darktrace, the AI-powered security company that went public this spring, aims to stop the spread of ransomware by preventing its customers from becoming victims at all. To do that, they need a defence mechanism that operates at machine speed, explains its director of threat hunting Max Heinemeyer.

    According to Darktrace's 2021 Ransomware Threat Report [PDF], ransomware attacks are on the rise. It warns that businesses will experience these attacks every 11 seconds in 2021, up from 40 seconds in 2016.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021