Germany expands Australia defence ties

·2-min read

Germany has pledged to stand firm in the Indo-Pacific after sending jet fighters to Australia with plans to return for further operations in 2023.

Defence Minister Richard Marles has met with his German counterpart in Berlin where the pair discussed Europe's increasing presence in the Indo-Pacific.

It follows Germany sending jet fighters to Australia for Exercise Pitch Black for the first time.

"Now is a time where friends need to stand together, and Australia and Germany have shared beliefs. We're both democracies. We both support a global rules-based order," Mr Marles said.

"We deeply believe that by working more closely with Germany, by building interoperability with Germany, we create a more peaceful world, both in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific."

Mr Marles also lauded defence industry cooperation with German companies Lurssen and Rheinmetall.

It comes amid concerns of Chinese posturing in the South China Sea and Beijing's increased militarisation of the contested waters.

Without mentioning China specifically, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht pledged a long-term presence in the Indo-Pacific.

"This exercise is an exercise in which we participate with our partners who share our values, partners who support the rules-based order and openness and multilateralism," Ms Lambrecht said when asked about possible Chinese provocation from the drills.

"The developments and stability of the Indo-Pacific region are also of utmost importance to us and to Europe as a whole."

Germany is planning to increase its presence in regional military exercises as well, with army troops set to visit Australia in 2023 for a land forces exercise.

Ahead of Pitch Black, the German airforce also deployed fighter jets to Singapore within 24 hours.

The German defence minister said participation in Pitch Black operated as a "stress test" for the airforce.

"It demonstrated that we are operationally ready quickly and globally," Ms Lambrecht said.

"It is my clear goal that we will continue our presence in the region for the next few years and that we will further deepen our ties.

"We don't want our activities in the Indo-Pacific regions to be short-lived."

Mr Marles is also due to meet with his French and British counterparts during his European tour.

He will tour key British shipyards, visiting the Govan shipyard in Glasgow on Tuesday before heading to the BAE shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness on Wednesday.