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Australia to purchase military transport planes from US, amid tensions with China

In this photo provided by the Australian Defence Force a AC-130 Hercules aircraft practices landing on the dirt airstrip at Benning Field during Exercise Northern Station 2007 near Townsville, Australia, Sept. 25, 2007.

Australia has announced plans to purchase 20 C-130J Hercules military transport planes from the US amid rising tensions with China in the Indo-pacific region.

The aircraft are to be procured as part of a deal worth $6.6 billion between the US and Australia while the two allies are currently engaged in their biennial Talisman Sabre war games along the Australian coast that involves 13 nations and more than 30,000 personnel.

The announcement follows the U.S. Congress' approval last year of a larger sale of 24 of the Lockheed Martin-manufactured propellor-driven aircraft.

According to Australia Defense Industry Minister, the first of the new four-engine Hercules is expected to be delivered in 2027.

The purchase "will almost double the fleet and represents a massive uplift in capability, in mobility and transport for the Royal Australian Air Force,” Conroy claimed.

The announcement was confirmed ahead of planned meetings by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken with their Australian counterparts for annual talks later this week in the Australian city of Brisbane.

It is Blinken’s third visit to Asia in less than two months, as tensions with China continues to deteriorate.

Washington and Canberra rehearsed precision missile strikes during war games on Saturday.

It came as Canberra overhauls its military strategy, focusing on long-range firepower in a bid to keep the potential adversaries at arm’s length.

According to Australian Army Major Tony Purdy the US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which was recently sold to the Australian Defense Force, was also tested in the drill.

China has repeatedly warned against the establishment of an “Asia-Pacific version of NATO” and made clear its opposition to any foreign military involvement in the region.

Earlier this month, Beijing categorically opposed NATO’s eastward movement into the Asia-Pacific region, warning that it will respond firmly to any threat against its legitimate rights.

The warning came in reaction to a communiqué made at a NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on July 12, alleging that China’s “malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target Allies and harm Alliance security.”

China said the NATO communiqué distorts China's position and policies, adding that the Western military alliance’s activities “will inevitably undermine regional peace and stability and stoke camp competition.”

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