AUKUS: Defense Chiefs Announce Pillar II Initiatives


Defense Chiefs of the AUKUS military-industrial alliance met at the Defense Innovation Unit Headquarters at Moffett Field in  California to discuss progress for the partnership, especially Pillar II, the broad based defense industrial collaboration.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was joined by Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, who also serves as defense minister, and British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps.  The defense chiefs saw capability demonstrations focused on artificial intelligence, integrated air defense systems, tactical augmented reality, space architecture and virtual training for air dominance.

“[A] watershed in the progress of Pillar II of AUKUS,” Marles called the meeting. “AUKUS represents a powerful combination of countries working together, which is sending a really important message to the world,” 

A senior defense official said that AUKUS is collaborating on artificial intelligence, autonomy, advanced cyber, electronic warfare, hypersonics, counterhypersonics, quantum technologies and undersea warfare.

The three nations are also establishing an AUKUS Industry Forum with trilateral government and industry representatives to help inform policy, technical and commercial frameworks to facilitate the development and delivery of advanced capabilities. The initial meeting of that forum will occur in the first half of 2024. 

In a Joint Statement, the Secretaries and Deputy Prime Minister reaffirmed the three nations' commitment to maximize the strategic and technological advantage of AUKUS .  They agreed that advancing AUKUS requires continued commitment to streamlining defense trade controls and information-sharing while minimizing policy and financial barriers across public and private sectors


Pillar II is facilitating collaboration in advanced technologies. In addition to work focused on dedicated AUKUS capabilities, AUKUS is providing a vehicle to break down barriers and improve cooperation in other areas. While many AUKUS-related advanced capability activities remain classified, the Secretaries and Deputy Prime Minister shared the following commitments:

  • AUKUS Maritime Autonomy Experimentation and Exercise Series. The AUKUS partners will undertake a series of integrated trilateral experiments and exercises aimed at enhancing capability development, improving interoperability, and increasing the sophistication and scale of autonomous systems in the maritime domain. Through these experiments and exercises, the AUKUS partners will also further test and refine the ability to jointly operate uncrewed maritime systems, share and process maritime data from all three nations, and provide real-time maritime domain awareness to support decision-making.
  • Trilateral Anti-Submarine Warfare. The AUKUS partners will deploy common advanced artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms on multiple systems, including P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft, to process data from each nation's sonobuoys. These joint advances will allow for timely high-volume data analysis, improving our anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
  • Undersea Vehicle Launch and Recovery. The AUKUS partners are integrating the ability to launch and recover undersea vehicles from torpedo tubes on current classes of submarines to deliver effects such as strike and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. 
  • Quantum Positioning, Navigation, and Timing. The AUKUS partners are accelerating the development of quantum technologies for positioning, navigation, and timing in military capabilities. These capabilities create resilience for our trilateral forces in Global Positioning System-degraded environments and enhance stealth in the undersea domain.
  • Resilient and Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Technologies (RAAIT). The AUKUS partners are delivering artificial intelligence algorithms and machine learning to enhance force protection, precision targeting, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. This effort builds on joint work demonstrated in the UK in April 2023 and in South Australia in October 2023. 
  • Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability. AUKUS is accelerating capabilities that provide trilateral partners with advanced technology to identify emerging threats in space. The Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability program, will provide 24-hour continuous, all-weather global coverage to detect, track, and identify objects in deep space and increase space domain awareness. Sites will be in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. The first radar site in Western Australia will be operational in 2026, with all three in service by the end of the decade.
  • Cyber. Trilaterally, AUKUS partners are engaging on cyber security with critical suppliers to the naval supply chain. We are collaborating with industry partners to deploy some advanced tooling which will uplift the cyber security of our supply chains, while also giving us greater insight into the threats to AUKUS. The AUKUS partners are also working to strengthen cyber capabilities, including protecting critical communication and operations' systems.
  • Establishing Trilateral Requirements. The Secretaries and Deputy Prime Minister noted that the International Joint Requirements Oversight Council, co-chaired by the Vice Chiefs of Defense from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, is a key collaborative forum.
  • AUKUS Innovation Challenges. AUKUS partners will launch a series of AUKUS innovation challenges in which companies from across all three innovation ecosystems will be able to compete for prizes on a common innovation challenge topic. In early 2024, partners will launch the first trilateral Innovation Prize Challenge, focusing on electronic warfare.
  • Defense Trade and Industrial Base Collaboration. The AUKUS partners are working to facilitate deeper and more rapid defense trade between the three nations by streamlining policies and processes, along with implementing comparable security standards for guiding the transfer of sensitive military technology, data, and know-how. .
  • AUKUS Advanced Capabilities Industry Forum. The AUKUS partners will establish and convene a standing Industry Forum with trilateral government and industry representatives to help inform policy, technical, and commercial frameworks to facilitate the development and delivery of advanced capabilities. The first meeting will occur in the first half of 2024.
  • AUKUS Defense Investors Network. The AUKUS partners are increasing and expanding private sector engagement by welcoming the creation of an AUKUS Defense Investors Network, leveraging the current networks in all three countries to strengthen financing and facilitate targeted industry connectivity.


The Secretaries and Deputy Prime Minister reviewed the progress that has been made since the March 2023 announcement of the Optimal Pathway for Australia to acquire conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines.  

They reaffirmed their commitment to delivering each phase, to include establishing Submarine Rotational Force-West (SRF-West) in Australia as early as 2027, selling U.S. Virginia-class submarines to Australia from the early 2030s, and delivering SSN-AUKUS to the Royal Navy in the late 2030s and the first Australian-built SSN-AUKUS to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in the early 2040s.

Sale Announced

On December 1, the State Department made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of AUKUS-related Training and Training Devices and related equipment for an estimated cost of up to $2.0 billion.

The Government of Australia has requested to buy articles and services in support of the Trilateral AUKUS Pillar I program. Included are training devices, personnel training, planning, and Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) services; support equipment; special tools; training software and courseware; design; supply chain and industrial base support; facilities and construction support; publications and technical documentation; personnel training and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; test and trials support; studies and surveys; other related elements of engineering and repair services for associated equipment and program support; and other related elements of logistic and program support.

U.S. training of private Australian industry personnel will occur only after explicitly authorized by the U.S. Department of State in accordance with U.S. law.


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