Among the questions that emerged about the AUKUS alliance and Canberra's acquisition of nuclear attack submarines from its American and British partners, instead of the Shortfin Barracuda submarines initially ordered from the France, the question of implementation deadlines of this measure was one of the most significant and fraught with implications. Indeed, everyone was aware that it would take more than fifteen years for the Australian industry to hope to deliver an operational nuclear submarine to its navy, and this while its own Collins-class submarines already mark the weight of the years. It seems that the Australian authorities have taken this problem head-on, since after announcing a program to modernize and extend the life of the 6 Collinses in service, Defense Minister Petter Dutton said in an interview with Skynews channel, has indeed announced that it plans to lease American nuclear submarines to fill this operational gap, until the submarines made in Australia enter service in the late 2030s.
The solution presented by the Australian minister is interesting in more than one way, and would solve many problems and questions related to this brutal change of posture in the Pacific, for both Australia and the United States. . From an operational point of view, of course, the solution makes a lot of sense, since it would allow a much faster rise in Australian naval power to cope with the equally rapid rise in Chinese power in this area. In addition, it would allow a flexible and controlled transition to this type of vessel and propulsion, areas entirely unknown to the Royal Australian Navy, particularly in the field of nuclear propulsion. We can thus imagine that, like the British aircraft carrier initially armed with F35B of the US Marine Corps, a part of the crew, and in particular of the propulsion unit, is armed with American sailors, and ensures not only a good use of the equipment, but also the confidentiality of certain technological data.
The advantages are also numerous from an industrial point of view, since this would allow the Royal Australian Navy to acquire experience upstream of the delivery of its own submersibles, and therefore to better orient the expressions of need, and the operational preparation for their implementation. It can also allow Australian sailors to familiarize themselves with the weapon systems and tactics employed aboard these ships, while bringing their own experience of this regional theater. This will finally allow the Australian Navy to better assess its own needs in terms of volume, and to spread over a longer period of time its training program, while reducing the pressure on the industrial component due to the obsolescence of the Collins.
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