AUKUS technology sharing comes a step closer


Australian access to foreign technologies on a range of cutting edge industrial technologies is a step closer following progress in the US Senate to the provision of exemptions from export controls.

Under the AUKUS agreement between Australia, the US and the UK, information exchange is to be speeded up on not just nuclear powered submarines but also cyber capabilities, electronic warfare, quantum technology, hypersonics, artificial intelligence and autonomous military capabilities.

On Friday a US Senate committee approved draft legislation supported by both the Democrats and Republicans to ease strict export controls for the AUKUS partners.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee waved through the legislation which will now be debated further next week to transfer of Virginia-class submarines, the first step in Australia acquiring the capability to construct its own nuclear powered vessels.

Australia’s ambassador to the US, Kevin Rudd was quoted in the media as saying this would allow America to share its highly sensitive information and technology secrets by granting Australia a ‘national exemption.

Rudd said: “That’s a necessary precondition for our country’s defence, science and technology base to form a seamless partnership with our American and British friends.”

Rudd was on a tour of shipyards in Virginia with local senator Tim Kaine and Navy Under Secretary Erik Raven.

Sen Tim Kaine (Democrat, Virginia) told reporters on Friday that the legislation opened a new chapter in the relationship between the three nations as they developed their alliance under the AUKUS pillars.

Senator Kaine said: “The first pillar will be the construction of Virginia-class subs, which are done here and in Connecticut.

“And then the subs, beginning of the 2030s, will transfer to Australia to enable Australia to take what they already do to promote regional security and do even more.”

Of course technology sharing works both ways.

Australian companies are well advanced in quantum computing and hypersonic flight technologies.

The federal government has supported quantum computing science over more than a decade with companies such as Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC), Q-CTRL and Archer Materials among the leaders.

The United States has faced numerous problems emulating Russian advances in deploying hypersonic cruise missiles which travel at five times the speed of sound.

However Australian company Hypersonix Launch Systems was selected from a field of 63 respondents by the United States’ Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to provide aircraft for hypersonic tests, the company’s first major contract.

Further reading:
AUKUS is supposed to allow for robust technology sharing. The US will need to change its onerous laws first
Hypersonix awarded first major contract

Picture: BAE Systems/Astute class nuclear submarine

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