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Australia Announces 'Largest-Ever' Investment in Cyber Warfare Capabilities to Counter China

CC0 / / Australian flag
Australian flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.03.2022
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg presented Canberra's budget statement for 2022-23 on Tuesday. The budget presentation was the last for Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Liberal coalition government, which faces a tough re-election in May.
Australia on Tuesday announced its “largest-ever investment” in bolstering the country’s cyber and intelligence capabilities, as it unveiled a $7.43 billion (9.9 billion AUD) investment over the next 10 years to bolster the size and capabilities of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said that the "Resilience, Effects, Defence, Space, Intelligence, Cyber. and Enablers (REDSPICE) package" will bolster Canberra's "commitment" to the Five Eyes (FVEY) alliance and the AUKUS military pact in a bid to support "a secure Indo-Pacific region".

REDSPICE will substantially increase ASD’s offensive cyber capabilities, its ability to detect and respond to cyber-attacks, and introduce new intelligence capabilities”, Dutton stated.

The Australian defence minister reckoned that the investment in ASD "recognises the deteriorating strategic circumstances in our region, characterised by rapid military expansion, growing coercive behaviour, and increased cyberattacks".

Dutton’s apparent reference was to China, , which has accused the US and its Pacific allies such as Australia of "inciting" an arms race in the region through the activities of groupings such as AUKUS and Quad (comprised of Australia, India, Japan, and the US).
The Chinese Foreign Ministry's building in Beijing - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.01.2022
Beijing Says AUKUS Pact Undermines Nuclear Non-Proliferation

During a visit to Washington in September of last year after the unveiling of the AUKUS trilateral pact among Australia, United Kingdom and the US, Dutton warned of "aggressive" cyber behaviour by Beijing in retaliation for the new agreement.

"It acknowledges the nature of conflict has changed, with cyberattacks now commonly preceding other forms of military intervention – most recently demonstrated by offensive cyber activity against Ukraine", Dutton also remarked.

Australia’s Overall Defence Spending Reaches Record Levels

The federal budget presented by Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also committed an approximately $431 billion (575 billion AUD) outlay to ramp up Canberra's defence capabilities by the end of the decade.
As per the budget papers, around half a trillion dollars in investments will go into upgrading Canberra's defence capabilities and infrastructure, besides expanding the size of the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) to around 18,500 by 2040.

"The development of ship building infrastructure, including a new submarine base, on the east coast of Australia will see a 20-year investment estimated at more than $7.49 billion (AUD 10 billion)", Dutton said.

Australia has announced a plan to construct at least three new bases along its eastern coast to station the advanced nuclear-attack submarines (SSNs) it is expected to develop thanks to British or US technologies under the AUKUS arrangement.
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference in Sydney, Australia on April 27, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.03.2022
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The announced budget also includes funding for acquiring "new uncrewed aerial surveillance systems, Ch-47F Chinook helicopters, Abrams tanks, and combat engineering vehicles", as per Dutton.
"The government will also upgrade and extend in-service support for the Hawk 127 Lead-In Fighter Training System that will result in a $ 1.2 billion (AUD 1.5 billion) investment in the Air Force’s future aviation capability", the minister said.
Dutton said that the expanded Australian defence force would “enable us to deliver our nuclear-powered submarines, ships, aircraft and advanced weapons”.

"It will mean we can build warfighting capabilities in the domains of space, information and cyber", he remarked.

Prime Minister Morrison said that the investments announced in the budget would increase Canberra's defence spending past 2 percent of its overall gross domestic product (GDP).

Overall, Australia's annual defence spending for 2022-23 is estimated to be around $35 billion (48 billion AUD).

In comparative terms, the US is by far the world's biggest defence spender, with its current budgetary outlay exceeding $750 billion. While China is the second biggest defence spender, it spends almost three times less than the US in military expenditures.
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