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Australia to Get Nuclear Submarines


Adam_S
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https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-16/australia-nuclear-submarine-partnership-us-uk/100465814

Some thoughts.

Are these going to be Virginias or are they going to go for their own design?

Are they going to build them in Australia?

Good riddance to the Barracuda. That project was a disaster.

This gives Australia a sub fleet second only to the US, at least among Western navies.

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Not likely to be an indigenous design as Australia simply doesn't have the capability.  Virginia is a possibility, but given UK involvement. it could also be the Astute class.  Given that the short fin Barracuda had already been selected, the nuclear version would also be in the running, if only to minimize French outrage over the cancellation of the Shortfin contract.

My money would be on the Astute though. I think the UK would be more willing to share its design secrets with the RAN than the USN would.

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The design is likely to be mixed IMHO, they are to be built in Australia and I'm guessing will be based on Astute or otherwise by BAe because why else are they at the table? There's also Congress not being a fan of exporting sensitive nuclear technology eve to friends and allies - getting it second hand via the UK keeps everyone happy.

I put this up on FB a few minutes ago

Ok first off this is fucking amazing on so many levels it is not funny - several of them very scary.The Poodle that didn't bark at the press conference. This whole business suggests the French deal was even further down the toilet than has been supposed - as in failure mode.Second its also this about the biggest possible flag saying Australia is really odds on shit scared of war in SE Asia.My guess is Astute II Aussie Boogaloo - based on US Congress not being huge fans of exporting naval nuclear technology and if we were buying an all American solution, why are the UK involved?

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Interesting development, hope it is not a case of too little, too late. But I suppose the Royal Navy could use some forward bases in Australia to support some SSNs if things go South before the Aussie boats are ready.

It is very nice to know of you, Shane!

Edited by sunday
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I'd say its got less to do with UK strategic reach or US money and more to do with just raw practicality.
The RAN has used USN derived combat suites for its last two generations of submarine and is going to with its next - that doesn't happen without US approval.  
The RAN has traditionally leached manpower/training from the RN, and obviously needs a huge skills boost, so that fits.
It's hard to get a sheet of paper between US and UK sub design tech these days, its very cooperative/collaborative down to with common designs for whole plug sections. The US is traditionally very sensitive about who it shares its underwater and nuclear toys with and under what terms, so the UK is not going to be exporting shared design  technology without US approval.

 

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Building in Oz is insane. Building infrastructure in Oz is sane. Shoot all the management in Adelaide and Canberra and you will set back PLAN ambitions by a generation. 

ETA:- Shooting politicians and civil servants is aas a whole a sound policy.

Edited by Simon Tan
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During the three-way sub bid between Japan, Germany, and France.. ISTR that the Japan bid was still to use US combat systems. It was fine for Japan since they used to having US cobat systems in their stuff, AEGIS destroyers, for example. So I had the impression that the US preferred Australia to pick the Japan. So in some way, the US was already prepared to lend some submarine tech for the Australia submarine project. Swapping out a Japanese hull for a UK hull probably suits the US just fine, if not, even more so. Although of course we don't know what kind of hull it will be. The simplest would be to just use an Astute-based sub with some inside modernization. But if its going to be some US-UK jointly developed entirely new sub, then I can see hard issues about sub secret tech between US-UK collaboration.

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Simon building in Oz is regrettable, but its not like Electric Boat or Barrow has spare building slots we could borrow, so even if it were politically possible there's realistically nowhere to do the work. 

Jason - the US compatible combat system and submarine cooperation is a long standing deal between Aust and US going back to the Oberon class subs. Getting US consent for tech release is/was basically a pre-approval stage before any submarine bid gets to the table, German, Swedish, French or Japanese.

Quote

 I can see hard issues about sub secret tech between US-UK collaboration.

No mate, the two are as thick as thieves. BAe Barrow in the UK have designed partial hull plugs for US submarines, just as the US is behind a lot of RN nuke engineering. The problem is sharing knowledge with third parties, and Australia is well placed for that.  

The design is going to be what the design is - yep I fully expect a good dose of Astute practice and a RR PW2 power plant, but the Astute is 1/3rd larger than the Barracuda and 2.5 times larger than the Collins, so I'm guessing there's going to be a bit of compromise with the infrastructure there. 

Edited by Argus
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First Australia and Australians want their own. Then they want Japanese. Then they stiff Japan at the last minute after comprehensive negotiations brokered by Washington, to choose the French.

Barely 5 years later, they now want American/British. And nuclear. And probably a host of additional capability upgrades above and beyond the currently available off-the-shelf options. Because a regular whopper with cheese just isn't good enough for them. It needs to be special.

Make up your minds already.

Edited by Nobu
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They COULD ramp up capacity but it would not be a long term profit center. Oz needs MRO. Not construction of super specialist stuff. 

I would even open MRO slots to 'Allies' and cut them in on the action. 

Right now, it's suicide redux.

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2 hours ago, Nobu said:

First Australia and Australians want their own. Then they want Japanese. Then they stiff Japan at the last minute after comprehensive negotiations brokered by Washington, to choose the French.

Barely 5 years later, they now want American/British. And nuclear. And probably a host of additional capability upgrades above and beyond the currently available off-the-shelf options. Because a regular whopper with cheese just isn't good enough for them. It needs to be special.

Make up your minds already.

That's one view, arse backwards, but still a view.
Japan lost a competiton that was theirs to lose.
Our need for subs has increased.
France's ability to provide them has decreased - the program has been in trouble for a while now with lack of progress.
Australia earns the moral superiority to get sniffy about submarines by not killing whales.  

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Id would get Barrow in Furness to build the first 2 boats. Make it an extension of the Astute class, put an American reactor and sonar system in it. And then, when they can see how it works, get the rest of the class built in Oz with the same setup. I dont see any reason why they cant build or operate up to 6. And then when Australia is a regional player, start touting for trade to the Indonesians and Japanese whom are also likely to wake up to the necessity at some point.

Oh yeah, and sell the Aussie sub yard to a conglomorate of BAE and an American yard, and tell the Australian politicians to poke off. Its the only way its going to work.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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5 hours ago, Simon Tan said:

They COULD ramp up capacity but it would not be a long term profit center. Oz needs MRO. Not construction of super specialist stuff. 

I would even open MRO slots to 'Allies' and cut them in on the action. 

Right now, it's suicide redux.

The Adelaide-class LHDs, and Hobart-class DDGs, were assembled in Australia from modules that were partially built in Spain, partially in Australia. I daresay that would be more difficult to do with pressure hulls of submarines, however.

Edited by sunday
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Waste of effort. Let others build them. Work up your crews on borrowed old boats.

The can do pressure hulls but they dont do nuclear reactors. 

Nobody in Adelaide wants to be honest. Oz could build coastal SSKs at exorbitant cost. They are just not competitive logistically. 

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7 minutes ago, Simon Tan said:

Work up your crews on borrowed old boats.

Yes, thus the idea of having some RN's SSNs based on Australia, they could be used both as a emergency stopgap, and a way to train crews. Training of crewmen could be also done onboard UK-based SSNs, however.

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Waste of effort. Let others build them. Work up your crews on borrowed old boats

That is my impression. In the short term they could even lease boats instead of buying them. 

 

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6 hours ago, Argus said:

Simon building in Oz is regrettable, but its not like Electric Boat or Barrow has spare building slots we could borrow, so even if it were politically possible there's realistically nowhere to do the work. 

Jason - the US compatible combat system and submarine cooperation is a long standing deal between Aust and US going back to the Oberon class subs. Getting US consent for tech release is/was basically a pre-approval stage before any submarine bid gets to the table, German, Swedish, French or Japanese.

No mate, the two are as thick as thieves. BAe Barrow in the UK have designed partial hull plugs for US submarines, just as the US is behind a lot of RN nuke engineering. The problem is sharing knowledge with third parties, and Australia is well placed for that.  

The design is going to be what the design is - yep I fully expect a good dose of Astute practice and a RR PW2 power plant, but the Astute is 1/3rd larger than the Barracuda and 2.5 times larger than the Collins, so I'm guessing there's going to be a bit of compromise with the infrastructure there. 

You make a good point, the Dreadnoughts are set to start building after the Astutes finish. Thats probably going to fill Barrow up for the foreseeable.

According to Silent Deep, the Americans can take a lot of the credit for how good the Astutes are. Supposedly when we started designing them there had been a loss of people whom knew how to build SSN's, because it had been such a long time since the Trafalgars completed, and I thin kit was Electric boat that stepped in to program manage. They did a good job pulling it together.

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14 minutes ago, alejandro_ said:

That is my impression. In the short term they could even lease boats instead of buying them. 

 

Problem is, the LAs are running out of hull life, the Viriginas are needed by the original operator, and the Seawolf are too few and specialised to be sold/lent

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2 hours ago, Simon Tan said:

Waste of effort. Let others build them. Work up your crews on borrowed old boats.

The can do pressure hulls but they dont do nuclear reactors. 

Nobody in Adelaide wants to be honest. Oz could build coastal SSKs at exorbitant cost. They are just not competitive logistically. 

Both the owners of the shipyards and the unions of the people that work there are a powerful lobbying force.

I think there are also some memories still from WW2 of being suddenly cut off from the rest of the world and having to try and build our own defense equipment for the first time. Rightly or wrongly, retaining some kind of domestic ability to produce or maintain these things is seen as a strategic issue.

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