Defence to get research agency under Labor

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Labor will establish a standalone agency within defence for vital research in new technologies, if elected.

The Advanced Strategic Research Agency would fund research and development in breakthrough technologies for national security, Labor leader Anthony Albanese announced on Thursday.

The lack of sovereign high-tech national security projects has left Australia vulnerable to strategic technological surprises, he said.

The Morrison government signed the AUKUS agreement last year to boost the sharing of information, resources and technologies with the United States and United Kingdom, and earlier this month added hypersonic weapons and electronic warfare capabilities to the pact.

Labor aims to link industry and universities with Australia's closest allies, to repeat the success of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, whose commercialised projects include the internet, computer mouse, GPS, drones and Siri.

The new agency would also work closely with the UK's new Advanced Research and Invention Agency.

"It will ensure the development of sovereign research capabilities for Australia, especially in getting prototypes to delivered technology," Mr Albanese said.

DARPA's recent work includes unmanned anti-submarine vessels, jet fighter technologies, atmospheric water extraction, reusable robotic spacecraft, and hypersonic missiles.

The coalition cut Defence's $1.3 billion armed drone program in the March budget to pay for more cyber detectives.

The cutting-edge SkyGuardian drone program would have delivered long-range surveillance and strike capability to the Royal Australian Air Force.

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