Australian news, and some related international items

Australian nuclear submarine program to cost up to $368b as AUKUS details unveiled in the US

ABC News, By defence correspondent Andrew Greene in San Diego and political reporter Matthew Doran

Australia’s nuclear submarine program will cost up to $368 billion over the next three decades, with confirmation that the federal government will buy at least three American-manufactured nuclear submarines and contribute “significant additional resources” to US shipyards.

Key points:

  • The AUKUS class submarines will be operated by both the UK and Australia, using American combat systems. 
  • One submarine will be built every two years from the early 2040s through to the late 2050s
  • From as early as 2027, four US submarines and one from the UK will start rotating through Western Australia

The Australian government will take three, potentially second-hand Virginia-class submarines early next decade, pending the approval of the US Congress.

There will also be an option to purchase another two under the landmark AUKUS defence and security pact, announced in San Diego this morning.

In the meantime, design and development work will continue on a brand new submarine, known as the SSN-AUKUS, “leveraging” work the British have already been doing to replace their Astute-class submarines.

That submarine — which will form the AUKUS class — would eventually be operated by both the UK and Australia, using American combat systems. 

One submarine will be built every two years from the early 2040s through to the late 2050s, with five SSN-AUKUS boats delivered to the Royal Australian Navy by the middle of the 2050s.

Eventually, the fleet would include eight Australian submarines built in Adelaide into the 2060s, but the federal government is leaving open the option of taking some from British shipyards if strategic circumstances change.

Meanwhile, the federal government estimates the cost of the submarine program will be between $268 billion and $368 billion over the next 30 years.

As part of that figure, $8 billion will be spent on upgrading the naval base HMAS Stirling in Western Australia.

From as early as 2027, four US and one UK submarine will start rotating through Western Australia, to be known as the Submarine Rotational Forces West.

No decision has been made on a future east coast base for submarines, although Port Kembla has firmed as the most likely location.

Standing alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, US President Joe Biden spoke of the strength of the alliance already………..

US subs to rotate off Australian coast

During the announcement, President Biden flagged that, from this year, Australian navy personnel would embed with both US and UK crew on submarines and at their shipyards………………………

Mr Albanese confirmed that Australian submariners were already undergoing nuclear power training in the US……………

Money for US shipyards

Australia will also contribute $3 billion over the next four years to US and UK production lines, with the bulk of that money heading stateside.

White House officials insisted Australia was preparing to make a “substantial contribution” to US submarine production facilities.

The US government will also request an extra $US4.6 billion from Congress to upgrade the nation’s submarine infrastructure, with a concession that the readiness of American production lines are “not where it should be”.

Included in its overall project budget, Australia will spend $2 billion over the next four years upgrading the Osborne shipyards in South Australia.

The purchase of Virginia-class submarines from the United States was described by American officials as “a potent nuclear powered submarine force in the 2030s, much earlier than many had expected”.

US officials tried to allay concerns about restrictions on sharing its nuclear technology with Australia…………..

The three AUKUS leaders made the announcement at Naval Base Point Loma, in front of the Virginia-class submarine USS Missouri, which arrived in San Diego Harbor late last week.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the Coalition would support the submarine deal “come hell or high water”.

“We were the authors of it. We give full credit to the government for continuing it and arriving at today,” he said.

………………………………………………… “It is also part of a seismic shift in the US-Australia alliance that will see Australia play an increasingly pivotal role in supporting and contributing to military operations in the region.” – Ashley Townshend from the Carnegie Endowment


March 14, 2023 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war

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