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Dr Ian Langford: Ramping up AUKUS Pillar II

10 July, 2024

In its July Issue, Defence Technology Review has published an article by Security & Defence PLuS Executive Director, Dr Ian Langford: Ramping up AUKUS Pillar II.

In the article, Dr Langford writes that, despite the extensive defence reviews Australia has conducted since 2012, “none have had the bluff, bluster and promise of the 2021 AUKUS technology agreement.”

While Pillar I outlines a clear pathway to a nuclear-powered submarine capability—an endeavour “deemed too big to fail”—Pillar II, in the opinion of many, has yet to translate into tangible priorities. The eight technology areas agreed upon by the AUKUS partners remain in varying stages of maturity, with some still years away from military application.

Dr Langford emphasises that AI, advanced robotics, and quantum computing have garnered significant investment from defence, government, and industry sectors. “The challenge is how to complement rather than compete.”

He goes on to argue that urgency driven by lessons from the war in Ukraine and technological advancements in adversarial nations necessitates immediate acceleration of certain Pillar II technologies. Dr Langford identifies three key areas requiring urgent development: hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, electronic warfare, and undersea warfare.

“The three technology vectors described above are just a few of those mentioned as priorities within AUKUS Pillar II. What they represent, however, are operational problems for each AUKUS country that need to be rapidly solved. In an era where Australia does not have the ‘watch’ or the time to prepare for future conflict, AUKUS must act now.”

Sign up for free to read the full piece in Defence Technology Review’s July Issue