CANBERRA, ($1=1.37 Australian Dollars) – The biggest contract in the history of the Australian fleet has failed and the most affected by this development are France and the French company Naval Group, learned BulgarianMilitary.com. Australia had to pay nearly $ 66 billion for the construction of 12 Shortfin Barracuda Block A1 conventionnel submarines. In 2017, the two countries [Australia and France] agreed on this deal and the new Australian nuclear submarines were expected to surpass all available in the region.
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However, the United States and the United Kingdom intervened and, together with Australia, created the AUCUS project, which is expected to be supported within days. AUCUS is a tripartite agreement between the United States, Britain, and Australia with the main goal of counteracting the Chinese threat in the Indo-Pacific region.
The creation of nuclear submarines for the Australian navy will be the first initiative within the new AUKUS alliance, said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“AUKUS ‘first major initiative will be the supply of a nuclear-powered submarine fleet to Australia. Over the next 18 months, we will work together to determine the best way to achieve this goal. We intend to build these submarines in Adelaide, Australia in close cooperation with the United Kingdom and the United States,” Morrison said during a joint presentation of the new union.
He stressed that Australia does not seek to acquire nuclear weapons or develop civilian nuclear capabilities. For his part, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson explained that “the submarines in question will be equipped with nuclear reactors, not armed with nuclear weapons.” “And our work will fully meet our non-proliferation obligations,” he said.
US President Joe Biden also added: “These are conventional nuclear-powered submarines. This technology has been proven. It is safe.”
UK, US, and Australia form defense alliance AUKUS
US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Ministers Scott Morrison, and British Prime Ministers Boris Johnson have announced a new trilateral security partnership, AUKUS, BBC News reported.
“While the Australia-UK-US partnership – AUKUS – sounds odd with all these acronyms, it’s good. (…) Our countries will renew and strengthen our common ability to confront threats of the 21st century just as we did in the 20th century: together,” Biden said during a joint presentation of the new alliance.
“This initiative aims to ensure that each of us has (…) the most advanced capabilities we need to maneuver and defend against rapidly evolving threats,” he said.
In turn, the Australian Prime Minister noted that “the world is becoming more complex”, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. To help ensure the security and stability that our region needs, we must now take our partnership to a new level, he said.
“AUKUS is a partnership in which our technology, our scientists, our industry, our defense forces work together to create a safer region that ultimately benefits everyone,” said Morrison.
According to the leaders, AUKUS will help protect the interests of the three countries in the Indo-Pacific region and will allow Australia to build nuclear submarines for the first time.
Why was the contract with France terminated?
The Royal Australian Navy is armed with six Collins-class submarines. They were manufactured 30 years ago by the Swedish company Kockums, which is now part of the large Saab group. The life cycle of this type of submarine, according to the Australian Ministry, should reach its end sometime in 2030-2031. That’s why Australia ordered brand new Attaka-class submarines from the French Naval Group, which are based on modern technology and construction of French Barracuda class submarines.
Long before 2030, the French were to deliver the first submarine to the Royal Australian Navy. However, it turns out that this will not happen and the optimal delivery time for the first submarine has been changed to 2035. This puts the “kangaroo” in an awkward position and would significantly weaken the navy’s combat capabilities.
The Australian government is thus forced to seek a solution through its existing six Collins-class submarines. Canberra has already voted a budget of nearly $ 4.6 billion for their renovation. It was supposed to happen anyway, but if the French plans coincided with the pre-guaranteed ones, Australia would only upgrade three Collins-class submarines. Now the costs are doubling.
“We need to be realistic about what lies ahead by way of threat in our region, and the submarine capacity is a significant part of how we mitigate that risk and it’s important we get the program right,” Australia’s Minister of Defense Peter Dutton said. “There is no doubt in my mind that we need to pursue a life-of-type extension [for the Collins class].”
But the bad news for Australia doesn’t end there. The program that finances the project for the new fleet of submarines turns out that instead of the planned $ 40 billion, it will have to pay $ 69 billion. The discrepancy in the initial price given by the French and these 69 billion is large, which forced Australia to talk hard about ending the project. This is why relations between Canberra and Paris are strained, unclear, and questionable.
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