In October 2022, I traveled to Washington, where I met with key members of the Biden administration, Congress, the defense industry and the broader policy community. We are all aware of the strategic environment we face, and we no longer have the benefit of a 10-year strategic warning time. Our partnership with the United States is more important than ever as we work together to ensure a secure and prosperous region.
A key element of the alliance between Australia and the United States is industrial collaboration. This isn’t about businesses from Australia and the United States competing with each other; it’s about our two industrial bases complementing and supplementing each other to create a system greater than the sum of its parts.
On my recent visit, I emphasized this message and the Australian government’s deep commitment to cooperation with the United States. This includes defense-industrial collaboration and capability development, including technology transfer and industry integration. I’m pleased to report this message was very well received by our U.S. partners.
Through our alliance, we continue to enhance the way we work together to improve the military and industrial capabilities of both nations and build more resilient supply chains in support of our defense forces. This is all part of moving from interoperability to interchangeability. This approach isn’t something that we should do — it’s something we must do given the strategic challenges we face.
A key area I’m focusing on to deliver greater industrial collaboration is our Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise. As part of GWEO, we are pooling our expertise and knowledge to build Australia’s critical guided-weapons stores, while also delivering a trusted second source of critical munitions to the United States.
During my visit to Washington, I also attended the G’Day USA Defence Industry Dialogue, where I had the opportunity to meet defense industry representatives, academics, investors, economists and policymakers from Australia and the United States. I took this opportunity to outline my broader goals and objectives as the minister for the defense industry.
The Australian government is committed to developing a robust, resilient and internationally competitive defense industry — an industrial base that provides the industrial capabilities that underpin our critical defense capabilities — while also contributing unique skills and capabilities to our alliance.
To enable this, the Australian government is delivering a more potent air combat and air strike capability to support the future air combat fleet, including the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. In addition, Australia is working to significantly enhance intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, space, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities. Australia is also investing in advanced training and modern equipment to support the Australian Defence Force.
I am excited by the many opportunities to build on the already strong collaboration between the industries of both our nations — large and small. Our alliance provides the foundations to boost both economies and deliver a technological advantage.
Australia and the United States are entering the next frontier of alliance cooperation, with a strong partnership that is built on trust, and one that will strengthen our deterrence and in turn support regional security, prosperity and resilience.
Pat Conroy is Australia’s minister for the defense industry.