The multi-generational defence technology partnership announced in 2021 between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America (AUKUS) represents a new kind of multigenerational security cooperation.

The delivery of nuclear propelled submarines to Australia will shift the regional balance of power in favour of a free and open Indo-Pacific. For the UK, transfer of US technology and injection of Australian budget support will underwrite Britain’s status as a top tier power in the sub-surface domain up to the end of this century. The US gains critical geo-strategic manoeuvre advantage from the proliferation of exquisite defence technology to its ally in the South Pacific.

AUKUS-driven deregulation of export controls and other restrictions offers the chance to create a mini-lateral common market and tap a broader pool of talent for innovation in pillar II technologies such as hypersonics, quantum, and electromagnetics. Joint research and development processes that produce shared military technologies will level-up capabilities, supporting battlefield interoperability. If the rewards are great, then so are the risks. Domestic political change and strategic divergence could expose the costs of dependence. We also consider how AUKUS partners can manage an optimum rate of exchange between capability and sovereign control.

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