Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Does the SSN-AUKUS Program have additional costs of 25% hidden in plain sight?

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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 .

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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.

SSN-AUKUS will also replace the British Astute
The SSN-AUKUS nuclear attack submarines will equip the Australian Navy, but also replace the Astute class SSNs of the Royal Navy

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.

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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.

Virginia SSN
The first two Australian SSNs will be used Virginia Block IVs which will have between 6 and 15 years of service when they arrive in Australia.

LOGO meta defense 70 Military planning and plans | Defense News | Military alliances

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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  1. hello, I have difficulty integrating the costs of this program because 209 billion euros for 8 submarines, that's more than 25 billion per submarine? even if we count the costs of development and MCO and the rest it is in the interest of Australians. buy French it’s much cheaper and just as good…

  2. @jean coail
    The interest for the Australians, if we can talk about interest, is to stay in the Anglo-Saxon club. I don't believe that the Australians themselves, one day, decided to change supplier. They allowed themselves to be fooled by England, from which they cannot separate themselves. Boris Johnson was in power then, and crooked like any Anglo-Saxon politician can be, he convinced the Americans. The issue was above all financial, in favor of the English and the Americans since it was Australia which paid out. AUKUS itself is a bogus alliance, which serves no purpose, especially not in the face of the growth and strength of the Chinese navy. AUKUS only allows the English, always them, to set a foot in the Pacific even though they only have Pitcairn as territory, and far in the south. As for the Australians, they are incapable of assuming their place in South East Asia, which includes the Indo Pacific.

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