Strategy unveiled regarding Australia's acquisition of nuclear attack submarines

Following the end of the SEA 1000 program awarded to the French Naval Group for the construction of 12 conventionally powered ocean-going submarines, and the announcement of the formation of the AUKUS alliance bringing together Australia, Great Britain and the States, one of whose objectives was to provide the Royal Australian Navy with nuclear attack submarines, speculation has been as numerous as the denials of the Canberra authorities. For many observers, in fact, and not without objective reasons, this shift operated by Canberra would be both very difficult and very expensive to implement, not to mention the many technological and industrial ruts that will have to be avoided in order to carry out this program at its end.

Among the many concerns often put forward, the operational life of the 6 Collins-class conventional submarines currently forming the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) submarine force was one of the most difficult to resolve, while that these vessels will not be able to keep the line beyond 2035 and that the delivery of the first Australian SNAs can only be expected, in the best case, beyond 2040. In addition, it quickly became apparent that the industrial partner privileged by the commentators in this file, the United States with the Virginia class, would lack the industrial capacities to deliver the necessary submarines while the US Navy itself is engaged in an intensive modernization phase aimed at replacing its submarines. -Los Angeles-class sailors as quickly as possible by new Virginia Block IV or V-class ships with vertical missile launch systems, while actively developing a next generation of Hunter Killer from the SSN(x) program specialized in tracking down and eliminating enemy submarines. In fact, US industrial capabilities in the submarine domain are already fully employed for the next 20 years, and the delivery of American SNAs to the RAN would necessarily result in a zero-sum game in the Pacific theatre.

The production of SSNs by US shipyards barely meets the modernization needs of the US Navy.

However, the Americans, British and Australians seem to have arrived at a model that meets all the constraints identified so far. Indeed, the nuclear attack submarines will not be American Virginias, but an evolution of the British Astute class, undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best SNA of the moment with the French Suffren. This evolution will certainly make it possible to equip Australian submersibles with the same vertical launch systems as the Virginia Block IV or V, so as to implement cruise missiles of the BGM-109 Tomahawk type and the ammunition which will replace them in the years to come. come. In addition, as was the case for the Attack class submarines of the late SEA 1000 program, the systems on board the ships, as well as the sonar chain, will be in large majority American, so that the training and the transformation of RAN crews could in part be carried out by the US Navy, which is much more present in this theater than the Royal Navy.

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