Paper - Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Australia-US Technology Collaboration for Defense

| Nov. 29, 2022

There has never been a better time for science and technology collaboration between the US and Australia. With the signing of the CHIPS and Science Act in August 2022, the US government put its money where its mouth is by injecting significant funds to counter the rise of China, as both a technological competitor for the US and an adversary seeking to undermine infrastructure and technological standards globally for domestic gain. The US is keen to retain its leadership, but its critical dependency on semiconductors manufactured in North Asia was exposed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Supply chain delays caused major impacts across most sectors of the economy and it’s a challenge that can’t be met by the mighty American technology sector alone. 

The timing of the CHIPS and Science Act, and its huge financial investment is particularly noteworthy given US attention is already split between what is likely to be a prolonged Russian war in Ukraine, increasing cyber activity and missile testing from North Korea and seeking to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. There is plenty here to occupy US and Australian policymakers, but some of the options to address these issues and mitigate their risks could reside in entirely new areas. There are certainly important lessons to learn here as the US and her allies seek to avoid direct military and potentially nuclear conflict, and advanced technology provides some much-needed alternatives in their arsenal. 

Australia is a valuable ally for the US in a secure science and technology supply chain. We’re a nation of thinkers and innovators, who share the same democratic principles, and we have a long history of being a trusted Defense partner contributing unique capabilities and services through the Five-Eyes partnership. Australia also possesses the raw materials and rare earth minerals needed to support technology development in a range of areas, including semiconductors; however this will need to be prioritised, and government and commercial sector alignment will be needed to meet the demand and timeframes.

There’s no division between domestic and international borders in cyberspace, and there’s increased blurring of the lines between activities for crime, national security, intelligence and defense. Enforcing artificial divisions that dilute our own approach to transnational technology ecosystems only aids our adversaries. 

In this paper, I propose five key science and technology areas for greater US-Australia collaboration that carry significant national security and defense risks for both countries. Rapid progress against these challenges will position us for success and strengthen our resilience against groups that seek to undermine the global rules-based order. 

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Winkler, Karly. “Australia-US Technology Collaboration for Defense.” Paper, November 29, 2022.

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