Australia is going to dramatically increase its defence spending by $270 billion over the next decade, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday.
We are looking to the future by investing in technology such as hypersonic weapons and increasing our defence capabilities in space.
But other than ushering in a new era of futuristic defence technology, what does this all mean?
What are hypersonic weapons?
Hypersonic weapons, specifically missiles, are even faster than supersonic varieties, i.e. faster than the speed of sound, and mean they travel at above Mach 5. That's 1.7 kilometres per second. Some missiles however, can travel even faster than this, possibly as fast as 9.3 kilometres per second.
That's the difference between travelling from Sydney to Melbourne in seven minutes or 76 seconds.
Hypersonic missiles currently can be fired from either a static object such as an aircraft or ship, or they can be fired into the atmosphere with a 'booster' which eventually releases it and it can re-enter the atmosphere and use momentum to generate speed. They can be armed with either conventional or nuclear warheads.
Who already has them?
According to ANU Centre for Military and Security Law visiting professor Clive Williams, Russia is the world-leader when it comes to hypersonic missiles. The Russians have successfully tested several varieties of hypersonic missile and are potentially years ahead of the US in testing.
France and India also currently have active hypersonic testing programs. Japan is moving towards testing in five years time and the UK has allocated funding for research.
Professor Williams said the US were on track to have operational hypersonic capabilities by 2022-23 and have tested missiles already in Australia at Woomera. He said that the Chinese have developed hypersonic weapons to be "a key element in its strategy to dominate the Asia-Pacific theatre".
The Australian Defence Force Structure Plan, released on Wednesday, states that Australia wants to implement "a development, test and evaluation program for high-speed, long-range strike and missile defence, including hypersonic weapons, leading to prototypes".
The defence force has indicated it will spend between $6.2 and $9.3 billion on high-speed, long-range strike options including hypersonic research.
Why does Australia want them?
Given so many actors in the Indo-Pacific region either have or are pursuing hypersonic weapons, it is hardly surprising Australia is seeking to join their ranks.
The defence force highlighted its desire to develop advanced strike capabilities with improved speed and range, and views hypersonic missiles as a natural progression to its existing capabilities.
However, as Professor Williams notes, it may be less constructive to consider the offensive capabilities of hypersonic missiles, and much more important to plan on defending against them.
"The speed and manoeuvrability of hypersonic weapons make it very difficult to detect, track, target, and engage them - or even to confirm the intended target until it is too late to react." he wrote in November last year.
"They are ideal first-strike weapons for blinding and incapacitating an opponent. Unless concerted international action is taken to limit hypersonic weapons, we risk another arms race as nations scramble to arm themselves with large numbers of them in the years ahead."
In announcing the push for hypersonic weaponry and other funding, the Prime Minister made it clear that Australia was to become more self-reliant in regards to defence.
While he recommitted to our partnership with the US, he also hinted that Australia may elect to avoid entering conflicts with the US in future if it went against our interests closer to home.
The Prime Minister referenced tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, such as China's exploits in the South China Sea and said that Australia needed to prepare for "a post-COVID world that is poorer, more dangerous and more disorderly."
Why are we heading to space?
The language used in the Defence Force's strategic update make it abundantly clear that space is viewed as the next frontier among military strategists.
"Assured access to space is critical to [Australian] warfighting effectiveness, situational awareness and the delivery of real-time communications and information," the update states.
Space policy expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Malcolm Davis, writing previously for The Canberra Times, highlighted the necessity of a presence in space.
"Put simply, without space capability, the [defence force] would be deaf, dumb and blind, unable to co-ordinate and control its operations, or understand the operational environment," he wrote.
Australia, for both military and civilian purposes, is highly reliant on satellite capability and services. The defence force clearly highly values unfettered access to space, which it says is continually put more at risk by the increasing congestion of Earth's lower orbit as more and more satellites are launched.
The primary goal, according to the defence force, is to shore up our capabilities for real-time communications and position, navigation and timing information through improved sensors and tracking equipment sent into orbit.
What are we already doing in space?
Short answer: not much.
So far, Australia's role in space has been primarily limited to assisting allies such as the US.
The defence force currently hosts C-band radar and a space surveillance telescope on behalf of the US.
However, the latest funding announcement, $7 billion over the next 10 years for space capabilities, signals Australia's intention to become a more proactive player in space.
What's next in space?
Much like with hypersonic missiles and Wednesday's broader announcements, Australia wants to be more self-reliant when it comes to defence.
Having space capabilities tied up with the US may not be prudent in future conflicts if Australia elected to distance itself in any way from the US.
Dr Davis thinks it is likely we will eventually see excursions into space launched and controlled from Australia.
"The prospect of Australia building and launching its own satellites using its own rockets from its own spaceports is now very practical, and affordable, and will likely be realised within the next few years," he said.