Australia’s new defense treaty with the US and UK will feature muscular defenses, courtesy of US deployment of military aircraft in addition to the agreed nuclear-powered submarines, officials said after a meeting in Washington.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed the recently-unveiled AUKUS treaty as a sign of “the country’s shared commitment to safeguard peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific now and in the future” during a Thursday press conference in Washington, DC, adding that the US has concerns about Beijing economically pressuring Australia. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne praised the newly-strengthened US-UK alliance as “well-suited for countering economic coercion.”

Giving an overview of the “historic new chapter” unveiled on Wednesday by President Joe Biden during his first meeting with the Australian PM since becoming president, Blinken noted the signatory nations would be “strengthening joint capabilities and interoperability in cyber, AI, quantum technologies, additional underseas capabilities,” information sharing, industrial bases, and supply chains.

The first project to be undertaken under the treaty is delivering nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, Blinken announced, clarifying that it would be the three nations in the new alliance that would be responsible for sourcing the subs. In addition to helping to source nuclear-powered subs, the US will provide “rotational deployments of all types of US military aircraft” to Australia, shoring up its air defenses, Defense Minister Peter Dutton said during the news conference.

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Cushioning the news a bit, Blinken insisted he “welcomed” the US’ European allies playing an “important role in the Indo-Pacific,” looked forward to continued close cooperation with NATO, the EU, and “others in this endeavor,” and most emphatically denied the existence of any “regional divide” separating the interests of Washington’s Atlantic and Pacific allies. (RT)