Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s $36 billion splurge on submarines, intended for nuclear later on

New submarines could ultimately be nuclear, say experts AFR,  by Mark Abernethy, 30 Sep 16   As far as government spending goes, it could be the largest capital project ever undertaken in Australia. The Future Submarines Program (FSP) aims to build 12 submarines at a cost of what could be more than $36 billion, taking the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s estimate of each sub costing up to $3.04 billion (some public estimates have been higher).


The prime contractor for the 12 submarines – intended to replace the Collins-class subs after 2025 – is French shipbuilder, DCNS, whose winning design is a diesel-electric variant on its Barracuda nuclear sub, now labelled the Shortfin Barracuda for the Australian project.

The requirement of the process was to deliver a regionally superior submarine, meaning the subs should be state-of-the-art, with a modern hull and a combat system from the United States.

However concerns about the new sub’s ability to convert from nuclear to diesel-electric may be ill-founded. In fact, the nuclear-centric design of the Barracuda class may be the point of the exercise, not the problem.  “I wouldn’t be surprised if the later builds are nuclear,” says Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

He says the broadening range of Australia’s defence outlook could also be a driver of a switch to the ultra-long range of nuclear submarines. The acceptance of the “Indo-Pacific” as Australia’s strategic theatre increasingly means simultaneous long-range deployments, in different oceans, with different intensities.

“It’s probably a good bet to say that the reason we’ve gone with the Barracuda is that some of the 12 builds can be nuclear, giving the ADF more options in how these submarines are used, ” says Jennings……..

Dr Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute, says the Japanese submarine in the tender was smaller than the Barracuda, and the Japanese contractor didn’t commit to building in Australia. However, the Japanese bid had the crucial advantage that its submarine is proven operationally…….

October 1, 2016 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war

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