Australian news, and some related international items

If the nuclear submarines aren’t ready in time – no worries – Australia will get lots of fun weaponry against China.

Mind the capability gap: what happens if Collins class submarines retire before nuclear boats are ready?

Nuclear subs are the first ‘pillar’ of Aukus, but defence experts are pointing to the second pillar – hypersonic weapons, AI and drones

Tory Shepherd, Guardian, 28 Feb 23,

“………….. The federal government is considering the defence strategic review and advice from the submarine taskforce on acquiring a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, but there are concerns that they will not be in service in time for a seamless handover from the Collins class.

The defence minister, Richard Marles, has been sounding increasingly positive that there will be no such gap.

“I’m feeling confident about our ability to deal with this,” he told Guardian Australia in January, adding it would be part of “the optimal pathway” to be announced soon…………….

Acquiring that fleet of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines is the first “pillar” of the Aukus partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, but the second pillar, which includes hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence and underwater drones, will be needed in the short term.

It will be at least a decade before even the first submarine is delivered and some estimates even push the timeline out to 2050.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is expected to meet with both the US president, Joe Biden, and the UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, in the US in March, to announce the governments’ plans.

Marles has emphasised the “genuinely trilateral” nature of the Aukus agreement between the three countries, leading to speculation a new hybrid submarine to replace the ageing Colins class fleet will be built using elements of both the US and the UK’s boats.

The life of the Collins fleet will be stretched out as much as possible with life-of-type extensions, but the boats are still set to be retired by the end of the next decade.

When former prime minister Scott Morrison announced he was scrapping the deal with France to build 12 boats in favour of the Aukus deal to build “at least” eight submarines in South Australia in 2021, he also announced plans to acquire various missiles, including hypersonic and precision strike guided missiles over the next decade.

On top of the missiles, there is a second pillar of Aukus that includes working with the UK and the UK on underwater drones, quantum technology, artificial intelligence and autonomous technology, advanced cyber capabilities, electronic warfare, and other innovations.

………………………… In a statement last year, the White House said the Aukus partners had made “strong progress” on the advanced capabilities. Trials of autonomous vehicles are set to begin this year, it said, and trials of quantum technologies for position, navigation and timing, would happen over the next three years.

Work had already started on autonomous and artificial intelligence-enabled systems to improve the speed and precision of decision-making processes, while the three countries were also strengthening their defences against cyber-attacks, sharing information on electronic warfare, developing advanced hypersonic and counter-hypersonic capabilities.

The director of the Lowy Institute’s international security program, Sam Roggeveen, said there were other capabilities Australia could buy that could do “similar things” to submarines – such as sinking ships.

“One area we’re already getting into is mine warfare,” he said.

“But we’re also investing in anti-ship missiles that can be fired from the air and we’re even getting some land-based missile capability.”

Other options that have been floated include building entirely new air warfare destroyers equipped with more than 100 missile launching cells, in order to bolster firepower, or building an interim conventional submarine……………….. more


February 28, 2023 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war

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