Defense Secretary Ash Carter this week signed a bilateral agreement with Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne focused on increasing intelligence sharing, improving defense industry engagement, and increasing interoperability in the face of rising threats from ISIS and China. Carter appeared with Payne on Tuesday following days of talks between the two countries in Boston. “Australia and America both want to sustain and renew an Asia-Pacific regional security architecture where everyone rises and everyone prospers,” Carter said, according to a release. “That’s the essence of the US rebalance toward the region.” The US and Australia have increased joint training, including a five-fold increase in the number of US marines deployed to Australia to 1,150 since 2013, and new deployments of Air Force aircraft and airmen, including new deployments of F-16s and B-52s down under. “Together our nations favor peaceful resolutions to disputes and oppose coercion and infringement on well-established international norms, especially in the face of rising tensions in the East and South China Sea,” Carter said.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.