When Scott Morrison announced last September the cancellation of the contract for the construction of conventional propulsion submarines of the Attack class of the French Naval Group, in order to equip yourself with American or British nuclear-powered submarines, many observers pointed out that the timing of such a decision would pose serious problems for the Royal Australian Navy. Indeed, the 6 conventional Collins class submarines currently in service, and which entered service between 1996 and 2003, would have all the trouble in the world to be kept in active service until 2050, an optimistic date for the delivery of the last one. Nuclear attack submarine intended to replace them. Many hypotheses have since circulated, such as the rental of American nuclear submarines or the Collins' life extension, but neither is truly able to meet the operational needs of the rapidly degrading geopolitical context in the Pacific.
It seems that after the largely excessive enthusiasm displayed by the Australian authorities following the announcement of this change of course, the reality of the facts is beginning to prevail in Canberra, and the options which now present themselves are at least far away. to be satisfactory, militarily as well as economically. Indeed, according to the Financial Review website, the Australian authorities would henceforth study an intermediate solution based on the acquisition of new submarines with conventional propulsion, in particular that of new Collins class submarines in a modernized version…. Indeed, to bring the 6 submarines currently in service beyond 2030, Australia had already announced a $ 6 billion modernization program intended to allow these ships based on technologies from the 80s to continue to ensure their performance. mission for the next 15 years. The new standard thus defined could make it possible, therefore, to design new ships with a reduced budgetary footprint in terms of R&D, to ensure the interim by raising the current ships pending the hypothetical nuclear-powered submarines to come. .
However, this very theoretical approach would be far from being relevant, and this in many points. As said before, the Collinses are buildings designed in the 80s, based on the Swedish Vâstergötland model, two generations behind modern submarines such as Swedish Blekinge, Japanese Taïgei or French Shortfin. Much larger than the original model, the Australian Collins encountered immense technical problems when they were put into service, problems which were finally resolved only after fifteen years, with the help of billions of $. In addition, ships have always suffered from limited acoustic discretion, much lower than that of other ships of the time such as the German Type 209 or the French Agosta. If this defect has in part been corrected by redesigning a large part of the ship, including the sonar dome, it nonetheless remains behind the current standards worn by modern ships such as the Japanese Soryu, German Type 212 and French Scorpene, as well as, and this is problematic, the Chinese 039A type, the very ones that Chinese anti-submarine warfare units train with.
The rest of this article is for subscribers only
Full-access articles are available in the “ Free Items“. Subscribers have access to the full Analyses, OSINT and Synthesis articles. Articles in the Archives (more than 2 years old) are reserved for Premium subscribers.
From €6,50 per month – No time commitment.