Australia to receive new design nuclear submarine under AUKUS treaty
The US, UK, and Australian governments have issued a joint statement outlining the AUKUS treaty plan to provide the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with nuclear-powered attack submarines, which includes the development of a new British-designed AUKUS-class submarine that will involve an unprecedented sharing of American and British nuclear technology.
Signed in September 2021, the AUKUS treaty committed the US, UK, and Australia to provide Australia with the means to not only acquire long-range nuclear-powered attack submarines for the RAN, but to develop the industrial infrastructure and know-how to build the boats domestically.
According to the statement, the key to the plan is the development of a new British-designed AUKUS-class submarine. Originally intended as the replacement for the still-building Astute-class, the new boat will be the mainstay of both the Australian and British submarine fleets, with the first vessels being built at Barrow-in-Furness, UK, for the Royal Navy in the late 2030s.
The new class will also include sharing British and American technology to a level never before seen, which will increase the commonality between the three navies' future nuclear boats, allowing them to work together more efficiently. It will also see Australia become just the seventh nation to deploy nuclear-powered submarines.
The first British-built AUKUS-class submarines will be delivered late in the next decade, with Australian-built boats following in later years as domestic facilities become available. To fill the gap until then, the Australian government has agreed to buy three to five Virginia-class attack submarines from the US, with the first to be delivered in the early 2030s to replace Australia's present Collins-class conventional submarines.
In addition, beginning this year, Australian sailors and civilians will embed in US and UK submarine facilities and aboard ships for training, and in about 2027 the RN and US Navy will rotate stationing of their nuclear submarines to Australia to help develop support facilities and provide Australian personnel with the needed experience of handling such boats.
"The AUKUS partnership, and the submarines we are building in British shipyards, are a tangible demonstration of our commitment to global security," said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. "This partnership was founded on the bedrock of our shared values and resolute focus on upholding stability in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. And I am hugely pleased that the plans we have announced today will see pioneering British design expertise protect our people and our allies for generations to come."
Sources: White House, UK Government
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Australia had spent well over a Billion Dollars with France in the development of a non - nuclear powered (aka "conventional") submarine yet all that money never got a complete design or even the start of building a boat. The prior government cancelled the venture with France (much to the French politicians' ire) and announced that it would acquire nuclear powered submarines from the United States (but would not carry nuclear weapons).
It's worth noting that any potential adversary to Australia (potentially North Korea, China and Russia) already have nuclear weapons so Australia's choice of armament is subordinate to the enemy's from day one.