Captain Lincoln Reifsteck, who leads the integration and acquisition program within the AUKUS Alliance, gave details of the delivery schedule for Australia's future nuclear attack submarines, particularly for this which concerns the three American submarines of the Virginia class which will be sold by Washington to Canberra between 2032 and 2038. Problem: the information transmitted reveals unavoidable additional costs of the order of 25%, at least, concerning this program.
Politically and commercially, the way in which the former Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, conducted his secret negotiations around the AUKUS program and to the detriment of France , is very questionable. On the other hand, the fundamental arbitration, to move from conventionally powered submarines to nuclear powered submarines, makes a lot of sense, for an island country bordered by three oceans, at the heart of the most explosive theater of the planet right now.
However, and perhaps due to an illegitimate design, the SSN-AUKUS program, which should allow Australia to acquire a fleet of eight nuclear attack submarines between now and 2032 and 2048, including three from the American Virginia class and five new SNAs co-developed with Great Britain, seems to be struggling to perfectly find its balance .
SSN-AUKUS, a $350 billion program for Australia
This is particularly the case in the budgetary area, while the latest estimates show a total cost of this program of around $350 billion (in 2023 Australian dollars) over its entire lifespan, i.e. more than 3 times the price of the program of 12 conventional Attack-class submarines abandoned on the pretext of its costs deemed "pharaonic" by the Australian executive.
This imbalance risks worsening in the months and years to come, due to certain details made public by Captain Lincoln Reifsteck , head of the AUKUS integration and acquisition program, during the Naval Submarine League's annual symposium, which was held last week.
The naval officer, in fact, detailed the delivery schedule for Australian submarines. Thus, in 2032, the Australian Navy will receive a first Virginia Block IV class nuclear attack submarine, which will be taken from the US Navy inventory. A second ship of the same class will be transferred to the Royal Australian Navy in 2035.
In 2038, it will take possession of a third Virginia, new this time, and related to Block VII. Following this, from 2041 to 2049, 5 SSN-Aukus type submarines will be delivered to the Australian Navy at a rate of one ship every two years. The first will be built in Britain, the other four, it seems, will be in Australia.
The replacement of the first Australian Virginia-class submarines from 2055
So far, nothing seems particularly problematic. This becomes so when we add that the Virginia Block IVs began to be delivered to the US Navy in 2020, and will be delivered until 2026. This means that the two submarines, which will be sold from opportunity to the Australian Navy, will have between 6 and 15 years of service in the US Navy, with a peak probability between 9 and 11 years, for both ships.
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