Security conversations and institutions have been strengthened, with varying scopes and activities but all focusing on the same goal of preserving peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. France, which has traditionally been an Indo-Pacific power with colonies and facilities across the area, took part in a multi-nation naval exercise with the four Quad countries in the Bay of Bengal in April 2021. (the U.S., Japan, Australia, and India). After training with India, Malaysia, and Singapore and crossing the contentious seas of the South China Sea, the UK’s flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, just arrived in Japan. For the second year, the warships of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India met in the Western Pacific for Exercise Malabar 2021, which ran from August 26 to August 29, 2021. The first in-person Quad Leaders Summit (United States, India, Japan, and Australia) will be held in Washington in the final week of September, sponsored by US President Joe Biden. The chiefs of the government of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States announced on September 15 the establishment of AUKUS, a trilateral security agreement.
AUKUS’s main characteristics
Australia will get the technology and capacity to deploy nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS agreement (i.e. submarines run by nuclear power). It will result in the construction of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines in Australia, marking the first time the United Kingdom and the United States have shared nuclear capabilities with a third country. The Mark-48 torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and Tomahawk cruise missiles are all possible options for these submarines. The United States and the United Kingdom would also exchange intelligence and sophisticated technology with Australia in areas like artificial intelligence, cyber-warfare, and quantum computing, among other things.
Importance of AUKUS
In order to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, Australia will play a bigger role. To defend its national interests, Australia will now have a more powerful naval deterrent. The AUKUS agreement also affirms the US-Australia Security Treaty’s importance. The AUKUS submarine agreement, which strengthens the Australian Navy’s capabilities, is an example of strategic defence cooperation and a game-changer in the Indo-maritime Pacific’s security architecture. The trilateral security cooperation demonstrates that Australia now views China through a geopolitical lens, rather than just economically. AUKUS presents the United Kingdom with a new chance to re-enter the Indo-Pacific region more directly. The United Kingdom is already a member of the Five Eyes (FVEY), an intelligence-sharing organisation founded on Anglo-Saxon unity (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.).
Australia’s nuclear submarines would contribute to a new balance of power in the Indo-Pacific, particularly if they were deployed in concert with the United States and the United Kingdom.
China has slammed AUKUS and the submarine contract, accusing them of fuelling an Indo-Pacific arms race and fostering instability. France in Uproar Since 2016, France and Australia have been in talks to construct a fleet of 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines for a total cost of $90 billion. Australia has cancelled its contract with France as a consequence of the AUKUS decision, resulting in a loss of investment and employment prospects for France. France feels “betrayed” and has taken the extraordinary step of removing its ambassadors from the United States. The Quad is not a security agreement, despite popular belief that it would play a limited role in dealing with the actual threat of China’s militarization if it did not have better security foundations. Despite the fact that the Malabar exercise is aimed at facilitating communication and interoperability in times of emergency, the Malabar exercise is not a naval alliance.
The security calculus in the area includes France. The loss may push France to refocus on partners like India. India would require external balance while ready to fight its own wars. If realpolitik requires it, new alliances must be formed – wherever there are common interests.