Australia has renewed a research partnership with the USA to develop hypersonic missiles for high-speed long-range strike capabilities.
FILE PHOTO (May 2016): HIFiRE 5b rocket launches successfully at the Woomera Test Range in South Australia. Photo by Corporal Bill Solomou
Last week, Australia and the United States signed a new collaborative agreement to develop and test hypersonic cruise missile prototypes.
This agreement will take place under the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) to cooperatively flight-test full-size prototype hypersonic cruise missiles.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said maintaining Australia’s technological edge and capability superiority was key to this planning.
“I am pleased to see this agreement come to fruition following my discussions with then Secretary Esper during my visit to the United States in July this year,” Minister Reynolds said.
“At AUSMIN, we acknowledged the unique role of our defence partnership to maintain our competitive edge, and affirmed the value of bilateral collaboration on hypersonics.”
The SCIFiRE Program is based on more than 15 years of collaboration between Australia and the United States on science and technology research into hypersonic scramjets, rocket motors, sensors, and advanced manufacturing materials.
Minister Reynolds said the experiments would culminate in flight demonstrations to show how the weapon performs in operational conditions, which will inform any future acquisitions.
“Developing this game-changing capability with the United States from an early stage is providing opportunities for Australian industry,” Minister Reynolds said.
Acting Under Secretary for Research and Engineering, US Department of Defense Michael Kratsios welcomed the new collaboration.
“SCIFiRE is a true testament to the enduring friendship and strong partnership between the United States and Australia,” said Mr Kratsios said.
“This initiative will be essential to the future of hypersonic research and development, ensuring the US and our allies lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability.
“We thank the Australian Department of Defence for their shared commitment to this game-changing effort.”
Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld said he was excited about SCIFiRE’s potential.
“The SCIFiRE initiative is another opportunity to advance the capabilities in our Air Combat Capability Program,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.
“Working with our Defence scientists here in Australia and our partners in the US Air Force and across the US Department of Defense on leading-edge capabilities brings out the best in our team.
“We are maximising our learning during development to better define the capabilities and needs as the system matures, and we are gaining insights as we go that will help us integrate it into the future joint force.”