AUKUS, Advanced Capabilities and Defense Integration in the Indo-Pacific

Picture of The aircraft carrier HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH returns to its home port after completion of Exercise Crimson Ocean

Nearly two years on from the inception of AUKUS in September 2021, the contours of this strategic partnership have begun to take a more concrete shape. Specifically, the roadmap for Pillar I, which aims to equip Australia with conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSN) and develop a new class of SSN, has been released, and there have been further discussions on Pillar II, advanced capabilities. While both pillars support the overarching objective of AUKUS, which is to integrate the defense industrial bases of Australia, the UK, and the U.S., Pillar II in particular reveals its deeper motivation in competing for global pre-eminence in emerging technology. This issue brief examines the aims and strategic rationale of AUKUS, focusing on its pursuit of collective deterrence vis-à-vis China. In doing so, it evaluates some of the opportunities and challenges AUKUS faces moving forward, paying attention to its attempt to develop and equip partners with leading-edge military technologies under a minilateral institutional arrangement.

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