SYDNEY (Kyodo) -- Australia will build its own missiles through a AU$1 billion ($760 million) project in close collaboration with the United States, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday.
The project called the Sovereign Guided Weapons Enterprise would support missile and guided weapons manufacturing for use "across the Australian Defence Force," as a part of the government's 10-year investment into the nation's defense industry.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, having the ability for self-reliance, be it vaccine development or the defence of Australia, is vital to meeting our own requirements in a changing global environment," Morrison said in a statement.
"It's an imperative we now proceed with the creation of a sovereign guided weapons capability as a priority," he also said.
It has been decades since Australia last manufactured its own missiles, relying on imported ones from the United States and other allies. Australia currently builds a decoy rocket aimed at seducing incoming missiles away from their targets.
To manufacture the missiles and provide export opportunities, the Department of Defense will choose an "experienced strategic industry partner," according to the statement.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. has identified Raytheon Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Kongsberg and BAE Systems Australia as potential partners.
Newly appointed Defense Minister Peter Dutton said Australia would work closely with the United States to "understand how our enterprise can best support both Australia's needs and the growing needs of our most important military partner."
Australia and the United States, are members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, along with Japan and India, with the four nations participating in joint military exercises.