Australia said it would accelerate plans to buy
advanced Sea Mines to protect its Maritime Routes and Ports from “potential
aggressors” amid China's plans to increase its influence in the Pacific region.
The so-called smart sea mines are designed to differentiate between
military targets and other types of ships, a defense department spokesperson said in a statement.
“Australia is accelerating the acquisition of smart
sea mines, which will help to secure sea lines of communication and protect
Australia's Maritime approaches,” it said. “A modern Sea mining capability is a
significant deterrent to potential aggressors.”
Though the defense department did not specify any
further details, a report in an Australian newspaper said Canberra would spend up to 698 million US dollars to procure the
high-tech underwater weapons.
The federal government will soon announce a contract
to buy “a substantial number” of sea mines from a European weapons supplier,
the report said, citing unidentified defense industry sources.
China has plans to step up its presence in the Pacific
and entered a security pact with Solomon Islands last year, raising concerns in
the United States and Australia, who for decades have seen the region as their
sphere of influence.