The U.S. Defense Department, in partnership with the Australian military, is set to conduct joint hypersonics experiments in 2024, as announced by the Pentagon’s chief technology officer, Heidi Shyu. The collaboration follows a deepening partnership between the two nations on hypersonics, marked by Australia’s observation of the U.S. Defense Department’s Technology Readiness Experiment (T-REX) in May. The upcoming joint experiments signify the next step in this strategic collaboration, with both countries exploring avenues to integrate their hypersonics experimentation efforts.
Hypersonic technology, capable of achieving speeds of Mach 5 or higher, is a focal point of the second phase of the trilateral AUKUS pact involving Australia, the U.S., and the United Kingdom. This phase, known as Pillar II, focuses on advanced technology initiatives, including hypersonics, quantum computing, autonomy, and electronic warfare.
The collaboration builds on over 15 years of joint hypersonic research between the U.S. and Australia, with previous initiatives like the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HiFiRE) and the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE). The SCIFiRE program aims to develop a Mach 5 precision strike missile powered by an air-breathing scramjet engine.
Beyond hypersonics, discussions are underway for the integration of air and missile defense capabilities between the two nations. The Pentagon is exploring opportunities for collaboration on the Integrated Battled Command System, a crucial component for air and missile defense in Guam. In August, Shyu had discussions with the U.S. Army and Missile Defense Agency on potential collaboration, and subsequent meetings have taken place to further explore partnership opportunities.
The upcoming joint hypersonics experiments underscore the commitment of both nations to advancing cutting-edge technology and strengthening their collaborative defense efforts. The collaboration extends beyond hypersonics, reflecting a broader commitment to enhancing air and missile defense capabilities through joint initiatives.
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