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Due to its strategic position in the South Pacific Ocean and historical ties, Australia is a key ally of the United States.

Australian defense policy has generally been opposed to the development of major ballistic missile defense systems. The 2013 Australian Defence White Paper  states that Australia does not advocate the development of a national ballistic missile defense (NBMD) system, stating that such a system would "potentially diminish the deterrent value of the strategic nuclear forces of major nuclear powers." Australia itself does not possess nuclear weapons, but "relies on the nuclear on the nuclear forces of the United States to deter nuclear attack on Australia," according to the 2013 white paper. 

According to the white paper, Australia does support the U.S. deployment of BMD in response to missile threats from North Korea and Iran, and "will continue to participate in exercises and research programs with key partners" in order to "remain fully informed of global developments in ballistic missile defence."

Current Developments

Despite Australia’s policy position against the developmentof a NBMD, it has leaned towards greater cooperation with the United States on regional missile defense in thePacific theater in recent years.

In a joint communiqué following the 2013 Australian-United States Ministerial Consultation (AUSMIN), both countries announced they would work together to “identify potential Australian contributions to ballistic missile defense in the Asia-Pacific region.” The communiqué also stated that Australia would “consult” with the United States as it “develops phased adaptive approaches” to missile defense in the Pacific.


As of February 2014, Australia does not currently have an ability to intercept ballistic missiles, according to the information provided by Australia’s Parliamentary Library . The Australian Navy, however, is currently constructing a class of Air-Warfare Destroyers , which will likely be equipped with Aegis missile defense systems provided by Raytheon.

Australia has developed and deployed the Jindalee Radar System , which could have the capabilities to contribute to a regional BMD system. In September 2011, U.S. scientists commented on the Jindalee, saying they were “impressed by its range and capability and confirmed it could detect a missile launch far away in Asia” and said that it could be a “highly effective part” of the missile defense shield being developed by the United States.

Updated February 12, 2014


Ian Williams 

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