Australia's Hunter-class frigate program could also be at risk

After the abandoned Shortfin Barracuda submarines for the SSN-AUKUS, the RAN's Hunter-class frigates are also under threat.

The rise in power of the Chinese armed forces, and in particular of the Navy of the People's Liberation Army, poses an unprecedented threat to Australia since the end of the second world. During the Cold War, the Commonwealth Island essentially played the role of a rear base for American forces and a leading ally of Washington.

Since then, the arrival of new long-range strike capabilities, but also ships capable of conducting ocean combat within the Chinese fleet, has led Australian strategists to return to many programs launched a few years ago.

Most emblematic was the cancellation of the SEA 1000 program which was to produce 12 conventionally powered Attack-class submarines derived from the French Shortfin Barracuda design. They will be replaced by eight nuclear attack submarines co-developed with Great Britain.

Canberra will also acquire 3 to 5 American SSNs of the Virginia class to ensure the interim between the end of life of the Collins from 2030, and the arrival of the first SSN-AUKUS at the beginning of the following decade.

Be that as it may, in order to respond to the evolution of the threat as well as to finance very expensive programs such as the SSN-AUKUS, the Australian general staff is led to review a good part of its programming.

Therefore, on the occasion of the presentation of the new Strategic Review last week it was announced that the LAND 400 program, which was originally to order 450 tracked infantry fighting vehicles for the Australian Army, would be reduced to just 129 units. This constitutes a considerable change as these IFVs were to constitute the high intensity battle corps of the Australian land forces.

The Hunter-class frigates were to replace the 8 Anzac-class anti-submarine frigates that entered service between 1996 and 2006
The Hunter-class frigates were to replace the 8 Anzac-class anti-submarine frigates that entered service between 1996 and 2006

If the Australian Army was heavily involved during this reorganization, the Australian Air Force, too, was forced to revise some of its ambitions. In particular, it had to put an end to the consultations begun with the US Air Force with a view to acquiring B-21 Raider stealth bombers, as it had been authorized to acquire F-111s in the 70s.


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