The Australian Government has opened a purpose-built centre at Eagle Farm in Brisbane to support the research and development of hypersonic weapons capabilities.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton opened the Australian Hypersonics Research Precinct, which required a A$14m ($10.01m) investment to develop.

The facility will allow defence, industry, universities and other international partners to study the use of hypersonic technology using flight test vehicles.

Dutton said: “It’s a complex technological challenge to build vehicles capable of flying at five times the speed of sound that skim the stratosphere to target any location on the planet.

“The technology that is developed here will help us to better defend against the malign use of this technology and give us the ability to strike any potential adversaries from a distance and deter aggression against Australia’s national interests.

“It enables defence researchers to develop and characterise sovereign hypersonic technologies and generate ‘true’ hypersonic flight conditions at large scale in a classified laboratory.”

Thales Australia, a subsidiary of French defence technology conglomerate Thales Group, has welcomed the opening of the precinct.

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said: “We look forward to the expansion of the defence ecosystem at Eagle Farm, where Thales currently has around 150 highly skilled and experienced staff supporting ADF programmes.”

The centre has been established as part of the government’s A$3bn investment across defence innovation, science and technology for the next ten years.

The precinct can house more than 60 staff and provides space for industry, academia and government teams to work on defence projects involving high-speed and hypersonic flight research and technologies.

Earlier this month, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) received its first upgraded Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.

The jet has been modified to Block 8.1 standard hardware and software, which includes safety improvements intended for the RAAF’s No 37 Squadron aviators.