Australia to build guided missiles to boost defense capacity

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Australia announced Wednesday it would begin building its own guided missiles in close collaboration with the U.S. as it seeks to boost its defense capabilities.

Citing the "changing global environment,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it would partner with a weapons manufacturer to build the missiles in a plan that would create thousands of jobs as well as export opportunities.

Morrison said it would spend 1 billion Australian dollars ($761 million) on the plan as part of a huge 10-year investment in defense and the defense industry.

“Creating our own sovereign capability on Australian soil is essential to keep Australians safe,” Morrison said.

Australia is part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, along with the U.S., Canada, Britain and New Zealand.

“We will work closely with the United States on this important initiative to ensure that we understand how our enterprise can best support both Australia’s needs and the growing needs of our most important military partner," Defense Minister Peter Dutton said.

He said building weapons in Australia would not only enhance its capabilities but would also ensure the nation had sufficient for combat operations if there was any disruption to global supply chains.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, an independent think tank, has estimated that Australia will spend AU$100 billion over the next 20 years on buying missiles and guided weapons.

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