•   
  •   

Australia Australia's submarine program has truly lost its rudder

11:45  16 september  2021
11:45  16 september  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

Australia to acquire nuclear submarine fleet as part of historic deal with US and UK to counter China's influence

  Australia to acquire nuclear submarine fleet as part of historic deal with US and UK to counter China's influence In a bid to counter China's growing regional influence, Australia joins a historic partnership with the US and UK to acquire nuclear submarines.In a deal announced by US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the US will share secret nuclear technology to help Australia in the switch to nuclear-powered boats.

The US, UK and Australia have announced a new military initiative, dedicated to a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” The first step of the alliance that appears aimed against China is to provide Canberra with nuclear submarines . “Only a handful of countries possess nuclear-powered submarines , and it is a momentous decision for any nation to acquire this formidable capability,” said Johnson “But Australia is one of our oldest friends, a kindred nation, and a fellow democracy, and a natural partner in this enterprise.”

Australia has no plans to acquire nuclear weapons and this proposal will remain consistent with Australia ’ s longstanding commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. However, accelerating changes to regional security make conventional submarines unsuited to our operational needs in the decades ahead. The Government will actively work with industry to ensure the people and skills developed under the existing program are not lost to the Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise as we establish a new program to support the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines to the Navy.

China is well on its way to achieving its goal of complete military modernisation by 2027 and already has more warships and submarines than the US. China's shipyards launch a new sub every year or so.

Scott Morrison wearing a suit and tie: submarine morrison biden homepage image © Supplied submarine morrison biden homepage image

Australia is well on its way to achieving world champion status in faffing about with submarine acquisition. As of Thursday, Australia has no agreement with anyone to build any new submarines whatsoever.

China has 66 submarines. It's expected to have 10 more by 2030, six of those nuclear powered, according to the US Office of Naval Intelligence.

By that time, Australia will have exactly as many subs as it has today, which is the same number it had a quarter-century earlier, according to Morrison government's statements on Thursday.

China angry after Australia signs a security alliance with US and UK

  China angry after Australia signs a security alliance with US and UK China's Washington DC embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu accused the nations of adopting a 'Cold War mentality' towards China.China's Washington DC embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu accused the nations of adopting a 'Cold War mentality' towards China in reference to the stand-off between the US and the Soviet Union in the twentieth century.

A new plan to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines using US and UK technology may be aimed to counter China, but steps on the toes of NATO ally France, which lost a massive shipbuilding contract with Canberra. US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his British counterpart Boris Johnson announced the ‘AUKUS’ After one European think-tank fellow called the cancellation “a knife in the back to Paris on a very important deal for France as it looked to solidify [ its ] own complementary role in the Indo-Pacific,” an Australian journalist in Berlin disagreed.

Scott Morrison is set to announce Australia ’ s submarine program will “go nuclear” under a new defence pact with the US and the UK that has been described as “China’s worst nightmare.” The new grouping to be known as AUUKUS will advise Australia on how to identify the best way to acquire nuclear-powered submarine capability and share advanced technologies involving artificial intelligence. The US-based Politico website reports that President Joe Biden will announce a new working group with Britain and Australia to share advanced technologies to counter China at 7am AEST.

That is, Australia will have the same six Collins class diesel powered subs that were first commissioned by the Hawke government, assuming they're still functional. Their retirement has been postponed repeatedly as successive governments - Labor and Liberal - have fumbled their replacements.

So what was all the fanfare from Scott Morrison, Joe Biden and Boris Johnson on Thursday? Australia, the US and UK have announced an "enhanced trilateral security partnership", the inelegantly named AUKUS. It is not a treaty and doesn't pretend to be.

But it does represent an increased level of trust and an intensified commitment to share technology and advanced weaponry. This includes co-operation on some of the same next-generation technologies that Beijing has declared as its highest tech priorities - quantum computing, quantum communication, artificial intelligence and cyber.

Disappointment after WA fails to snag submarine defence maintenance contract

  Disappointment after WA fails to snag submarine defence maintenance contract WA had been pushing to share a lucrative defence submarine maintenance contract with Adelaide, but the Prime Minister confirms that will not happen.The WA Government had been pushing to share maintenance and upgrade responsibilities for Collins class submarines with South Australia.

Australia in June said it was undertaking "contingency planning" as its fleet of Collins-class submarines approach the end of its lifespan. Biden said the governments would now launch an 18-month consultation period "to determine every element of this program , from workforce, to training requirements, to U. S . officials did not give a time frame for when Australia would deploy a nuclear-powered submarine , or how many would be built. They said that since Australia does not have any nuclear infrastructure, it would require a sustained effort over years. One-off technology swap.

Australia ' s next submarine fleet will be nuclear-powered under an audacious plan that will see a controversial billion program to build up to 12 French-designed submarines scrapped. Key points: Joe Biden is expected to make an announcement at 7:00am AEST. The ABC has been told that news of Australia ' s decision was instead delivered to Paris by the secretary of the Defence Department Greg Moriarty. Allied naval presence is expected to increase north of Australia — including in the contested South China Sea — as part of a coordinated tri-continental push against Beijing territorial

This could prove to be the most important element of the agreement in equipping Australia for its own defence in the longer run, if it's executed intelligently, a major caveat.

As Joe Biden put it, AUKUS is a "historic step to deepen and formalise co-operation among all three of our nations, because we all recognise the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long-term."

But the three wartime allies have chosen to announce as their first initiative a plan to help Australia acquire nuclear propulsion technology for submarines.

Australia has spent the entire post-war era fantasising about nuclear power for its submarines. Till now, that's all they were, fantasies.

Morrison gets credit for persuading Washington and London to share their closely held nuclear expertise with Canberra. But what's Australia going to do with it? Beyond the theatrics of the announcement, what is the practical outcome?

Australia beats drums of war with nuclear submarine pivot

  Australia beats drums of war with nuclear submarine pivot This deal is clearly designed to send a message to China, and it's a sign of where Australia's national security policies lie for the foreseeable future.The deal marks the start of AUKUS, a new partnership with two of our oldest allies. It also brings plenty of firsts for Australia: we will be the first country without a domestic nuclear program to have a nuclear-powered submarine fleet. And aside from the United Kingdom, we’re the only country which will have access to the United States’ nuclear submarine technology.

Australia needs to replace its six ageing Collins-class submarines . In 2016 it signed a deal with French Company Naval Group to build 12 diesel-electric attack subs - but the parties were in dispute over the amount of building that would be done in Australia . French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and armed forces minister Florence Parly said in a statement issued by the country's embassy in Canberra that it had taken note of Australia ' s decision to halt the Future Submarine programme with France.

Australia has at least 40 per cent of the world's uranium supplies and the new submarine deal could pave the way for the country to embrace nuclear power to drastically reduce carbon emissions. The US president meanwhile appeared to briefly forget Mr Morrison's name at one point during the announcement - referring to him only as 'that fellow Down Under'. Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday morning unveiled Australia ' s plan to build its own submarine fleet alongside US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

First, the Morrison government has cancelled the existing contracts to buy 12 French-designed submarines. This was the deal that the Turnbull government struck five years ago. The subs, to be built in Adelaide based on French design, were to cost an estimated lifetime total of $90 billion. The first was supposed to enter the water in about a decade from now.

That agreement, which was feted as the basis of a new era in strategic relations with France, is now dead. All that remains is an argument about how much Australia will have to pay to cancel. And a deep sense of French dismay and betrayal. Much as Australia's abortive deal for Japanese subs ended years earlier.

And in its place? The Morrison government has announced an interdepartmental committee to spend the next 18 months talking to the US and UK "identifying the optimal pathway to deliver at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for Australia". They're to be built in Adelaide, the government tells us, so that will require a full reconfiguration of the shipyards and workforce. But there is no known design and certainly no contracts. In other words, it's a plan to have a plan.

What impact does the nuclear option have on Australian submarine contractors and jobs?

  What impact does the nuclear option have on Australian submarine contractors and jobs? There are two overwhelming reactions from the local defence industry to this week's announcement that Australia will tear up its contract with Naval Group and build either US or UK designed nuclear submarines instead. One is relief, the other fear. Nigel Hennessy from defence consultancy Project Alpha Plus — which had worked for Naval Group — explained that, from a strategic perspective, a nuclear submarine made more sense for Australia.

But we know from the Morrison government that the proposed new nuclear subs will be delivered years later than the French-designed subs, and cost more. And because it's planning "at least eight", Australia could end up with fewer than the 12 in the previous deal.

Nuclear propulsion will, if it ever becomes operative in an Australian sub, allow subs to remain on station longer, underwater longer and travel faster. The subs aren't proposed to have nuclear arms.

The nuclear reactors that drive them would be inserted as sealed units by the US or UK. Canberra says that no civil or military nuclear capability will be developed in Australia.

"We'd be buying a nuclear reactor in a box," says ASPI's sub specialist, Marcus Hellyer. "It does make us even more dependent on the US. At any point they can turn off the technology. The question then is what expertise we can develop to operate and sustain the subs."

Australia can now contemplate another decade or two with no new subs. And even if this proposal goes to plan, Australia will not have a full sovereign capability but an increased defence dependency on the US. Perhaps Morrison thinks that America, having produced one Donald Trump, could not possibly produce another.

So when Beijing's spokesmen fulminate against this announcement, don't be surprised if they have to pause to laugh into their sleeves.

Get a note direct from our foreign correspondents on what's making headlines around the world. Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.

Australian nuclear submarines can test China's 'weak spot' .
Australia's new nuclear submarine fleet is set to prove a test for China in an area of naval warfare the rising superpower lags the West. While China has been rapidly modernising and expanding its navy, it remains behind the US in anti-submarine capability, defence expert Marcus Hellyer says."The US has a significant advantage over China in submarine development," Dr Hellyer, of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said."Chinese submarines are at least a generation behind American ones."Also in anti-submarine warfare, the US and other western nations have traditionally led China.

usr: 12
This is interesting!