Australia Announces $788 Mln Defence Contracts With South Korea Amid Regional Tensions
12:42 GMT 13.12.2021 (Updated: 08:57 GMT 15.11.2022)
Australia's government has given importance to modernising its armed forces despite fiscal pressure, indicating its concerns about China's rise in regional security structures.
South Korea's Hanwha Defence Co. signed a $788 million deal on Monday with Australia to supply 30 K9 self-propelled howitzers, marking its first sale of the self-propelled artillery system to a member of the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing alliance.
The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprised of the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
The Korean firm will also supply 15 AS10 armoured resupply vehicles under the contract signed in the presence of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Canberra.
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This is Australia's first major defence acquisition from an Asian defence contractor, Hanwha underlined in a statement.
Australian Prime Minister Morrison said that his government is committed to keeping the Asia-Pacific region safe "while protecting our interests in a rapidly changing global environment".
"The Self-Propelled Howitzer capability, including a strengthened industrial base, is one of several projects that will modernise the Australian Army, ensuring it continues to maintain a capability advantage now, and into the future", Morrison said.
Australia's July 2020 "Defence Strategic Update" outlined plans to adjust the nation's defence posture to develop a more robust and self-reliant deterrent.
The document outlined that Australia's defence budget will rise from $31.1 billion in 2020 to $50.7 billion by 2030, with a total of $151 billion being invested in defence equipment over the period.
The 29,500-strong Australian Army currently has 239 towed artillery, including 54 M777A2 of US origin.
The 155-mm K9 has a maximum range of 40 km and a speed of 67 km per hour. It can fire its first round within 30 seconds from the moment it first receives firing information from the Fire Direction Centre (FDC) while in a static situation. While moving, it can fire after 60 seconds.