A person in protective face mask walks along the harbor waterfront across from the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, Oct 6, 2021. (LOREN ELLIOTT / REUTERS)
SYDNEY – Australia said on Monday it would accelerate plans to buy advanced sea mines to protect its maritime routes and ports from "potential aggressors".
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."
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
Though the defense department did not specify any further details, a report in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Monday said Canberra would spend up to A$1 billion ($698 million) to procure the high-tech underwater weapons.
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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.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told ABC television he would not "pre-empt those national security issues."
"What we need is to make sure we have the best possible defenses. So we have looked at missile defense, we're looking at cyber security, we're looking at all of these issues," Albanese said.
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Australia has been looking to boost its defense spending over the past few years, including entering into a deal in 2021 to buy nuclear submarines from the United States and Britain.