Australia plans to buy up to 220 Tomahawk missiles from the US

Matthew Daniels/US Navy via Getty Images

Australia said it plans to buy up to 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States after the US State Department approved the sale on Friday.

The deal comes days after Australia announced it would buy nuclear-powered attack submarines from the US to modernize its fleet amid growing concerns about China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Australian officials said the new nuclear submarines could fire the Tomahawk missiles.

Japan also announced plans last month to upgrade its military to deter China, including Purchase of 400 Tomahawk cruise missiles for use as early as 2026.

The Australian rocket sale has a price tag approaching $900 million. The prime contractor will be based in Arizona Raytheon missiles and defenses.

“This proposed sale will support United States foreign policy and national security objectives,” the State Department said in a statement. “Australia is one of our most important allies in the western Pacific.”

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said his country would work closely with the US

“Ensuring we have long-range missiles is a really important capability for the country,” Marles told Channel Nine. “It allows us to reach further beyond our shores and that’s ultimately how we can keep Australia safe.”

Defense Industry Secretary Pat Conroy said the missiles could be fired from the Virginia-class submarines that Australia would buy under the so-called AUKUS deal.

“We certainly want the best possible capabilities for the Australian Defense Force, so that includes the ability to engage opponents as far from mainland Australia as possible,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “The cruise missiles are a crucial part of that, as are the submarines that launch them.”

The submarine deal has To ponder that it could pave the way for bad actors to evade nuclear oversight in the future. Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, vowed this week to be “very fastidious” in overseeing the proposed transfer from the US to Australia.

Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating launched a scathing attack on his country’s plans this week, saying it “has to be the worst deal in history” because of the huge costs.

Australian officials have estimated the cost of the submarines at AUD 268-368 billion (US$178-245 billion) over three decades.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government was transparent about the costs.

“The assessment that needs to be made is whether buying and then building our own nuclear submarines increases the capacity for us to defend ourselves by more than 10%? You bet,” Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “So it’s good value for money.”

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