Gravedigger of the SEA 1000 program which planned the construction of 12 conventionally powered submarines in Australia by the French Naval Group, the SSN Aukus program as now designated, announced in September 2021, aims to provide the Royal Australian Navy with 8 submarines. nuclear attack sailors (SSN) by 2050, to replace the 6 conventional Collins-class ships currently in service with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
After a period of uncertainty and speculation during which Australians, British and Americans jointly defined the contours of this program, it was publicly revealed in March 2023, during an event bringing together the Australian and British Prime Ministers, Anthony Albanese . and Rishi Sunak, and US President Joe Biden at the US Naval Base San Diego.
On this occasion, the broad outlines of the program were revealed, in particular the fact that the Aukus SSNs would be co-developed by the 3 countries but with British management, both to equip the Royal Navy to replace the Astute class SNAs, and for the Royal Australian Navy.
With the first ship not expected to enter service until 2040, Australia will also acquire 3 Virginia-class SNAs to replace the Collins scheduled to be withdrawn from service, a recent second-hand Block III or Block IV ship, and two new Block IV ships, with an option for two additional ships to anticipate a possible delay in the delivery of the Aukus SSNs .
Finally, according to Australian authorities, a major infrastructure which will create up to 20,000 jobs will be deployed in Australia for the construction of the new submarines, as well as for their maintenance and upgrades in the decades to come. The program will certainly be very expensive, it is a question of nearly 370 billion Australian dollars, but it should make it possible to provide the RAN with exclusive capabilities to operate in the Pacific against China and optimize its interoperability with the US Navy and the Royal Navy.
Presented in this way, the program seems reasonable , admitting as initial postulates the need to acquire nuclear-powered submarines to respond to the evolving threat in this theater. In addition, industrial and economic balances seem to be respected, through the creation of an industrial sector with high potential in this area. But the reality could be very different...
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