A security deal to be signed between China and the state of the Solomon Islands has sparked widespread concern across the Pacific region, primarily in Canberra. The agreement should allow China to deploy its warships and station troops in the region, just over 2,000 kilometers from Australia.
Following the revelation of the draft deal last month, a senior Australian defense official warned that the Chinese naval presence in the strategically located Pacific state would “change the math” for the Australian military.
As a result of these concerns and frantic diplomatic activity between the two Pacific states, Australia has now decided to accelerate the acquisition of anti-ship missiles to increase its naval capability and strengthen its defenses in the waters of the Peaceful.
Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Anzac-class frigates and Hobart-class destroyers will be equipped with the latest generation Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace (KDA) Naval Strike Missile (NSM) Block 1A by 2024, approximately five years before the scheduled date.
The NSM will replace the RGM-84 Harpoon Block II anti-ship missile currently in service. The Harpoon is an over-the-horizon anti-ship missile capable of maritime and land missions with GPS navigation and all-weather capability.
The new NSM Block 1-A missile is part of the 3.5 billion AUD (2.61 billion USD) Australian Defense Force (ADF) modernization program announced by the Ministry of Defense last week to protect seaports and the maritime approaches to Australia.
The package also includes AGM-158B Joint Air-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and an unannounced maritime mining capability.
“With Australia’s strategic environment becoming increasingly complex and challenging, our ADF must be able to hold potential adversary forces and infrastructure at risk at a greater distance,” said Australia’s Minister of Defense. Defense, Peter Dutton. “These world-class strike weapon systems will equip our forces to better protect Australia’s maritime approaches and, if necessary, contribute to coalition operations in our region.”
Australia’s national interests in the Pacific, which it has always considered its backyard and natural zone of influence, are threatened by China’s march towards the Pacific and its growing influence with countries. Pacific Islanders (PIC).
Canberra has also begun the process of designing and developing its own nuclear submarine with the help of the United States and the United Kingdom under the AUKUS pact, with the aim of creating a deterrent against China in the Pacific region where it is steadily gaining ground.
Revolutionary anti-ship missile
The acquisition of NSM Block 1A, which has an unclassified range of 124 kilometers, will more than double the maritime strike range of the RAN’s surface fleet, according to the MoD.
The selection of NSM Block 1A as the chosen solution to replace Harpoon will result in the delivery of the next-generation maritime long-range strike segment of the RAN’s Sea 1300 project.
The Sea 1300 is part of a large group of RAN combat capability strands that will be funded under a 20-year A$24 billion investment program announced in January 2021 as part of the structure plan Force 2020 to consolidate the development, management and governance of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Guided Arms.
The Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is a very flexible system that can be fired from a variety of platforms and used to attack a wide range of targets. It has excellent agility, thanks to its airframe design and high thrust-to-weight ratio.
The missile is fully passive, has demonstrated exceptional sea-skimming capabilities, and can survive hostile air defenses with enhanced terminal maneuvers. At sea or on land, the seeker’s Autonomous Target Recognition (ATR) ensures the right target is spotted, recognized and hit with pinpoint accuracy.
The combination of NSM and the previously announced Tomahawk cruise missiles is the optimal capability mix for Australia’s needs, and has been demonstrated in service with our key alliance partner, the United States, previously said. the Australian Minister of Defence.
China may send military personnel to the South Pacific islands under the terms of the agreement with the Solomon Islands to help maintain order in the region. It could also send warships to the Solomon Islands to rest and resupply, sparking rumors of establishing a Chinese naval station there.
However, the case has inevitably raised concerns among Western allies Australia and the United States, which remain wary of China’s military ambitions.
A hostile power in possession of the Solomons, according to Anne-Marie Brady, global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington and professor of politics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, would have a direct influence on the sea routes linking the South Pacific States .
Even though China and the Solomon Islands have secured Australia’s leadership against a military deployment, Canberra is preparing against a possible PLA base in the region by acquiring long-range anti-ship missiles that would give more bite. to his Royal Australian Navy.
Tensions between Australia and China have been high for a long time and the Chinese attempt to settle near Australia will only exacerbate these tensions and lead to the rapid arming of the Australian Defense Force.