After the Shortfin Barracuda submarines abandoned 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 the Navy of the People's Liberation Army, poses a threat not seen since the end of the Second World War on Australia. During the Cold War, the Commonwealth island essentially played the role of rear base for American forces and a leading ally of Washington.
Since then, the arrival of new long-range strike capabilities, but also of ships capable of conducting oceanic combat within the Chinese fleet, has led Australian strategists to return to numerous programs launched a few years earlier.
The 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 model. 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 provide interim support between the end of the Collins' life from 2030, and the arrival of the first SSN-AUKUS at the start of the following decade.
In any case, in order to respond to the evolving threat and to finance very expensive programs like the SSN-AUKUS, the Australian general staff is having to review a good part of its programming.
Thus, during the presentation of the new Strategic Review last week it was announced that the LAND 400 program, which was initially to order 450 tracked infantry fighting vehicles for the Australian Army, would be reduced to only 129 units. This constitutes a considerable change as these IFVs were to constitute the high-intensity battle body of the Australian land forces.
If the Australian Army was largely involved in this reorganization, the Australian Air Force was also forced to revise some of its ambitions. In particular, it had to end consultations initiated 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 1970s.
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