Nuclear submarines are superior to Australia’s current diesel-electric subs, defense minister says

Australia’s defense minister has defended the federal government’s $368 billion (US$244 billion) deal to buy up to five nuclear submarines, saying Australia’s diesel-electric submarines will benefit from US nuclear propulsion technology and China’s existing 10 He said it was inferior to more than one nuclear submarine. .

On March 13th, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that Australia will build six Collins-class diesel-electric submarines and eight nuclear submarines over the next 30 years under AUKUS, a trilateral security agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom. announced that it will be converted to

The move has been in the works for a long time, as Australia considers replacing six Collins-class submarines due to reach the end of their service life in 2036.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the plan would “take more time, cost more and involve more risk” than if Australia had pursued a government submarine project with France. criticized the deal.

In 2021, the Morrison government that took over from Turnbull canceled a $66 billion contract with France for 12 new diesel-electric submarines. Then-Defense Minister Peter Dutton said French submarines were no longer suitable for Australia’s operational needs at a time of growing security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

But under the leadership of the Labor Party, Defense Minister Richard Marls Said On Sunday, a look at projections for the 2030s and 2040s revealed that “the only capable long-range submarines that can operate effectively are nuclear submarines.”

He told an ABC insider that a diesel-electric submarine could pursue a timeframe target measured in days before it would have to surface to recharge its batteries using diesel engines.

“It’s noisy. It’s called snorting,” he said. “We have an increased ability to detect it.”

A nuclear submarine, on the other hand, can be underwater for months at a time, and its only limitation is food, Marless said.

“So that’s what we’re going to need in the future.”

“That’s why we have to take this path. Ultimately, we will convert our current six diesel-electric submarines to eight nuclear submarines over 30 years.”

Marles did not name the Chinese Communist Party in his comments, but said, “There are claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea, which is inconsistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

“In 2000, China had six nuclear submarines. By the end of this decade, they will have 21. We will have 200 ships by the end of the year, which is a huge military buildup right now,” he said.

China currently operates 56 submarines, 12 of which are nuclear, according to the latest Pentagon assessment.

The defense minister also denied that Australia’s access to US submarine technology hinged on US commitments to defend Taiwan in the event of a conflict.

“What Australians do with respect to disputes will always be a matter for the Australian government to control on the day, and this does not remove an ounce of that control.”

The AUKUS submarine project is important because the US Navy has not shared nuclear propulsion technology since it partnered with Britain in the 1950s.

Albanians, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden have admitted that the rewards of cooperation outweigh the risks of sharing secrets given the Communist Party’s growing military presence in the region. .

Implementing AUKUS “requires robust and innovative information sharing and technical cooperation,” the joint statement said. “The two countries are committed to further trilateral cooperation to enhance joint capabilities, enhance information and technology sharing, and integrate industrial bases and supply chains, while strengthening each country’s security posture.”

The deal makes Australia the first country outside the “Club of Five” (US, Russia, China, UK and France) to deploy a fleet of nuclear submarines at sea.