Yesterday, the Japanese Defense Ministry announced that the Chinese Navy had maneuvered an aircraft carrier and accompanying vessels between the Okinawa and Miyako Islands. This provocative action is the most recent escalation in the western Pacific by China after air defense identification zones were violated in Taiwan late last month and live-fire missile drills in the South China Sea in February; displaying resolve, intent, and dominance over the U.S. and regional allies. These actions in Near Peer competition are coupled with developing abilities in Cruise missiles from Russia and China, to deny the U.S. regional access.
“China will firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests.” – Yang Jiechi, Alaska Summit, March 17th, 2021
One of America’s greatest allies, Australia, is countering China’s destabilizing proliferation of missiles and aggressive actions in the Indo- Pacific region by riveting and pivoting its focus to homeland air and missile defense.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Wednesday, March 31st, that Australia will develop domestic air and missile defense interceptors including BMD capabilities and guided missiles; with an initial budget of $1 billion Australian dollars. Prime Minister Morrison’s decision is in direct response to the rapid development of Chinese long-range cruise missiles that threaten the sovereignty of Australia. The Australian Department of Defense is taking a multi-service homeland defense approach, between the Army and Air Force, to counter the significant threat China poses to Australia.
Australia, like other U.S. Indo Pacific Allies, Japan, and South Korea, have brought into its military service the F-35; a 5th generation aircraft that can penetrate Chinese A2AD as well as standoff with effectors in negating the Chinese A2AD areas in the Indo Pacific. This Air Domain platform is the most valuable maneuvering capability that Australia owns to project power in this region. Australia accepted the F-35A Lightning II into service in 2018 and has committed to purchase a total of 72 total F-35A fighter jets producing a fully operational capability in 2023.
The Australian investment into the F-35 A Lightning II requires an effective 360-degree, persistent defensive capability from cruise and missile threats in defense of their air bases in Australia that house the F-35A Lightning II where they are the most vulnerable. The National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) missile defense system has been chosen for its capability-based system and versatility to do both fixed air base sites and a semi-mobile capability to defend mobile forces in the Indo Pacific both Australian Land Forces and Air Forces. The NASAM is able to integrate into the fire control network, and most importantly uses the AMRAAM missile, which can be interchangeably used on fighter jets as an air-to-air interceptor.
The U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Turkey, Belgium, and Singapore are all challenged to defend this highly valuable F-35 weapon system on its land bases. The United States has yet to deploy a dedicated 360-degree land-based missile defense system around its airbases. The United States actively uses its only 360 simultaneous air and cruise missile defense capability at the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., a NASAM system that is not a program of record and is operated by the National Guard. Australia joins Norway and the Netherlands, which currently possess operational NASAMS and the F-35 Lightning II.
The Australian’s tremendous value and investment into the F-35 A Lightning II absolutely requires 360 missile defense from the Chinese Cruise Missile threat on the airbases in Australia that house the F-35A Lightning II as well as mobile air bases in the Pacific where they operate from.
“When you look through offense, defense, and all those capabilities together it’s really about strategic deterrence. It’s not just about nuclear posture…not about missile defense, not just about space…it’s about all those things together that provide our overall strategic capability and our ability to strategically deter our adversaries” – General Hyten, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, February 26th, 2021