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Australia to Get Nuclear Submarines


Adam_S
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3 hours ago, sunday said:

The Spanish Army got some Aerospatiale AS332 Cougar helicopters (now AS-532) because that was the condition imposed by the French government to accelerate the extradition of a member of ETA, Ignacio Etxeberría Martín, aka "Mortadelo". Mortadelo is the character of a popular Spanish comic strip.

So, the Cougars of the Spanish Army are also known as "Mortadelos".

France has some weird politics when defense sales are involved.

France? no, everyone, see the sale of Santa Barbara to GD, the procurement of NASAMS (not needed but Norway wanted frigates) or Aspide (we are all Socialist around here...), the Spanish Army ended up with Mistral, NASAMS, Aspide, HAWK and Patriot to defend airspace that the Air Force had more than enough assets to defend, but they will make a great museum collecion at Fuencarral.

Regarding subs, as mentioned, the tale of the procurement of the S-80s probably burned Naval Group and they put in more safeguards ensuring the only technology to be transferred is how to weld steel, but even when colaborating with Navantia, they were very much the senior partner with Navantia putting together subassemblies with little tech, no access to design info other than need to know, no combat system access and subcontractors being certified by NG. 

Oz would probably be better served by buying the boats from EB (or acquiring 1st flight Virginias) in exchange for economic counterbalances in some other sector, but I think there's a crunch on available hulls and yards to cover their order.

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https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/pm-s-submarines-met-with-strategy-money-and-nuclear-opposition-20210916-p58scr.html

 

Some highlights:

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The government has not set a percentage on the amount of local construction with each of the submarines and will consider whether the first vessels could be built overseas in order to deploy some of the fleet as soon as possible in the 2030s.

 

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A central claim in the government plan is Australia will gain access to US and UK technology including nuclear reactors made overseas and fitted to the submarines with enough fuel to last for the life of the vessel, limiting the handling of the fuel in Australia.

 

Edited by Adam_S
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https://breakingdefense.com/2021/09/joint-us-australian-hypersonic-cruise-missile-moves-ahead/

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WASHINGTON: The Defense Department’s joint effort with Australia to develop an air-breathing hypersonic cruise missile took a step forward yesterday, with the Air Force issuing round-two contract options to Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The program, called Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE), is aimed at maturing “a solid-rocket boosted, air-breathing, hypersonic conventional cruise missile, air-launched from existing fighter/bomber aircraft, through the completion of a preliminary design review,” according to the DoD contract announcement. 

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, Adam_S said:

The big one for me is how we are going to keep the reactor going with no domestic nuclear industry to speak of. What may make that easier though is that IIRC some of the newer reactor designs can last for the entire life of the sub. Maybe get the poms or the seppos to build the reactors then just plug and play.

Astute reactor is fuelled for life IIRC

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10 hours ago, Nobu said:

It still burns, I will freely admit. Japan lost a competition that was Japan's to lose? That's got to be true, because it hurts.

I'd like to know if the French will be compensated.

Payment up front, in cash, before the first rivet. Because Australia's credit rating should be about 300 at the moment. 

The reason why they haven't done nuclear, ever, is going to come into play at some point. If it was anything more than Australians showing off how Gaia-friendly they are, well, we shall see what they do about their spent nuclear reactor fuel.

I hope they choke on it.

Spent fuel will go back to the supplier at the end of life of the boat.  That's how the Astutes and Virginias are designed.

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10 hours ago, Nobu said:

It still burns, I will freely admit. Japan lost a competition that was Japan's to lose? That's got to be true, because it hurts.

 

I'm sure we spoke of this in another thread. 
The deal was done on a political level as you say, but our procurement procedure demands a competition for a project of this size.
The Japanese were inexperienced in this sort of competition and assumed it was all kabuki anyway, so put in a minimal effort that didn't even bother to address several key points, like local content/offsets.
The French came in knowing they were behind, but looked at it as a valuable experience that even if they lost would be justified as a training exercise for the sales people and good PR for the company. So they did the job properly and their bid blew the Japanese out of the water. 
AIUI if both parties had been selling the same submarine at the same price, the French would have won because their bid fulfilled the terms of the competition better then the Japanese one did.

Of course since then French have been less effective at fulfilling the terms of their obligations, how poorly depends on who you talk too. But in several areas they too have made their share of strange assumptions - or perhaps we made assumptions about how the French would treat us as customers. 

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14 hours ago, RETAC21 said:

Actually, you want SSK to play in the shallow South China Sea and the coasts of the PRC, because the US lacks that capability

This was the case, but the situation has shifted as the threat profile has changed. Dealing with modern China in her own front yard means absolute air superiority over the South China Sea is a pipe dream, and satellite surveillance has made things even harder. 
The SSK is harder to detect underwater, where an SSN is harder to detect as a surface contact. That a SSK has to snort, spending hours presenting a small but detectable radar and IR target makes life very difficult and projected life consequentially short. The SSN is bigger and noisier underwater, but only presents a surface contact for moments if it wants to pop up a mast. 

I'm not saying its all one way or the other, but the picture is a lot more complicated than it used to be. :D       

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2040? So what is everyone getting paid for this generation? ASC is a farce, a boondoggle. Their costs are prohibitive, their structure is French dreadnought level topheavy. It should be building SSKs for the Free World(tm) but instead it is pretending to have competences it does not. 

And this is being charitable.

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2 hours ago, Argus said:

I'm sure we spoke of this in another thread. 
The deal was done on a political level as you say, but our procurement procedure demands a competition for a project of this size.
The Japanese were inexperienced in this sort of competition and assumed it was all kabuki anyway, so put in a minimal effort that didn't even bother to address several key points, like local content/offsets.
The French came in knowing they were behind, but looked at it as a valuable experience that even if they lost would be justified as a training exercise for the sales people and good PR for the company. So they did the job properly and their bid blew the Japanese out of the water. 
AIUI if both parties had been selling the same submarine at the same price, the French would have won because their bid fulfilled the terms of the competition better then the Japanese one did.

Of course since then French have been less effective at fulfilling the terms of their obligations, how poorly depends on who you talk too. But in several areas they too have made their share of strange assumptions - or perhaps we made assumptions about how the French would treat us as customers. 

Beg your pardon but I don't think that is a fair assessment. Whether or not its an intended unfair assessment so as to serve a firums function of reciprocal behavior is another matter that is soooooooo unintetesting.

IIRC, Prime Minister Abbot was supporting the purchase of the Soryu submarine. Whether or not such a large scale program required a bidding program did not seem evident. So it looked like a straight off-the-shelf purchase. Australia would get good SSKs at relatively low cost and relatively soon. And the supplier being a country that could be reliably seen as partner in the far long term as it was in the same region and at most opposition to a raising China. This looked like a big ticket success to then Japanese prime minister Abe as well for same geopolitical interest and to jump start defense sales. 

But Australian domestic interest for the submarine to be built inside Australia had influence in the election for the next Australian Prime Minister. So Abbot was out and Turnbull came in along with placing a selection bid process for the submarine. The Japanese side was not expecting in having to compete in a bidding process and had to scramble as to what degree they would/could manufacture in Australia.

The disappointment from the Japanese side should be understandable. But I would go further that it is also serves as a sense of suppression on Japan's desire to expand its defense industry. The whole reason for all this talk is China. Who here is China's neighbor? Who here stands most to lose if Taiwan falls under the rule of the CCP. Japan's loss on the sub contract had nothing to do with poor Japanese expertise nor advertisemnt ability. Afterall, Japanese subs are made by Kawasaki and Mitsubishi. Those companies know how to advertise and making sales packages. It was defeat by politics and nothing else. Reality is that it is Australia's decision and that can be respected. But that does not take away the existance of an opinion on the matter. Is it worth expressing is another matter. If the Anglo-sphere wants to be top tier in this region, don't be surpised if Japan is lost like Saigon or Kabul because of the same typical process all so now evident.

 

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9 hours ago, Adam_S said:

A bit more about this on the telescreen this morning. Apparently we're getting Virginias, they're going to be built in Australia and will be delivered in 2040.

That's another 35 percent increase in manning even over the Astutes. In effect you need to triple your submarine force if you stay with the plan for eight boats. Along with financial, technological and political questions I must say I'm doubtful that's gonna happen even over a 20-year timeframe. Canada once had big plans for a fleet of ten to twelve SSNs too, and we know how that turned out; though the role of the US in particular was different. 

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Though it was the end of the cold war that put the final kibosh on the Canadian SSN's. I dont see the China spat dialling down anytime soon.

The Virginia's are fine boats, but they are far too big for what Australia wants. I dont think in the end its going to be the Astutes or Virginias. I think its likely to be an amalgam of the both, with size wise it coming out something like a Trafalgar. Its probably going to have be a whole new boat, because we have seen that working off other nations vessels and trying to reengineer them doesnt work very well. So with all that design capacity, why not design something bespoke? You are going to have to design it around the freezer for the lager for example.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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Most of all back then the US didn't want any Canadian SSNs and blocked sales both from France and the UK under previous agreements with the latter and Canada itself, so it was never going to happen even before the considerable domestic opposition. Obviously the case is different here, though in light of British experience in particular of the US jumping in to kill technological competition with "better" offers which then never materialize (Skybolt, F-111 etc.), I'd be rather cautious about the prospects. 

The case for Australian SSNs is a good one, but they really need the smallest design possible, both due to available national ressources and if they really want them to sneak around the shallows of the South China Sea. Hence my contention that of all the existing ones, they would be best served with Barracudas; if everyone was actually serious about the strategic issue, they would get something like a Barracuda with American reactor, weapons and combat systems. Getting the French on board would also pacify the political disturbance created by them being kicked out.

I cannot see that against the specific background of the AUKUS construction though. The next best solution would be to get the Brits to design something Trafalgar-sized with current US/UK technology. If however they just get Virginias foisted upon them, it has all the hallmarks of abovementioned American spoiler attacks. At best they may end up with three or four of those and play US auxiliaries in the deep waters of the Pacific. At worst the whole thing will be scrapped after years of political and financial expenses, and the Collins' will soldier on until their condition forces replacement by another conventional design. 

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If they are going to be Virginia's, I dont really see why they need Britain involved at all. We have to be bringing something specific to the table. As far as the Astutes, the Americans played a large role in those too, so on the face of it, they dont really need us, unless its something to do with the Astute as it was built. It cant be the power plant, because again, the Americans can drop one of their reactors in the design   without much issue. Spearfish? Well ok, although again, I cant see the Americans passing up an opportunity to sell M48's.

I think we have to consider, the Australians are going to be piggy backing on technology we are designing for the next SSN, which are due to enter service in the 2040's, which if the Astute is any guide, the Americans will be hand in glove with us on. From what im hearing, will not actually be much before then we see an Aussie boat in the water. I dont doubt it will also help us on developing the next SSBN, the SSN's often seem to leverage technology that makes it into them first.

https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/uk-to-develop-new-class-of-nuclear-submarine/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/hisutton/2019/12/08/new-intelligence-on-the-secretive-next-generation-british-attack-submarine-ssnr/?sh=2d414d7a107c

I do actually agree about the French. it would have been a lot smarter to have got them involved. OTOH, that would mean sharing US Submarine technology with France, which France seemingly never have been enthusiastic about, presumably because it keeps the French flag on everything they do.  Its deeply regrettable, but I dont see the Barracuda's were really going to work as diesel boats. It would have been a lot simpler if Australia had gone nuclear from the start, but there we are.

Have you a link for that on the us trying to block sales to Canada? Ive not read anything on that.

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9 hours ago, Argus said:

This was the case, but the situation has shifted as the threat profile has changed. Dealing with modern China in her own front yard means absolute air superiority over the South China Sea is a pipe dream, and satellite surveillance has made things even harder. 
The SSK is harder to detect underwater, where an SSN is harder to detect as a surface contact. That a SSK has to snort, spending hours presenting a small but detectable radar and IR target makes life very difficult and projected life consequentially short. The SSN is bigger and noisier underwater, but only presents a surface contact for moments if it wants to pop up a mast. 

I'm not saying its all one way or the other, but the picture is a lot more complicated than it used to be. :D       

China looks like it plans to try to dominate the South China Sea using huge numbers of missiles launched from ships, shore bases and aircraft. Recent war game have, apparently, shown that US bases in the area are vulnerable to attack.

The obvious counter to this seems to me to be a combination of range, speed and stealth. Have assets that can base a long way away but that can get to where they need to be quickly and with a good chance of avoiding detection. Seed the area with drones for targeting and start chewing away at Chinese bases and ships with stand off weapons. Make the PLAN fear leaving port.

SSNs and long range stealth bombers like the B-21 look to be ideal for that kind of warfare.

A lot of the South China Sea is quite deep water too, especially the area around all those artificial islands the Chinese are building. While the area around Japan and Korea might be well suited for an SSK, I'm not so sure about the rest of it.

East-China-seas-South.jpg

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52 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

If they are going to be Virginia's, I dont really see why they need Britain involved at all. We have to be bringing something specific to the table.

I think this is about a lot more than just sharing submarine technology. The intent seems to be to forge a strong military alliance in the area to counter rising Chinese power.

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1 hour ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Have you a link for that on the us trying to block sales to Canada? Ive not read anything on that.

It's on Wiki, actually. I find the bit about invoking those agreements is not sourced, though the link to a USN Postgraduate School thesis details the reasons for American opposition: that the SSN fleet would take up ressources to the detriment of existing Canadian NATO obligations, and that the intention of assuring national sovereignty in the Arctic would endanger US access to same vis-a-vis the Soviets, and possibly even give rise to future anti-American nationalism in Canada.

The former concern was actually shared by some in the UK, where it was noted the Canadians drew up the plan for 10-12 SSNs without any idea of the actual cost (which caused some consternation when calculated for them), and they would do better to provide more troops for the defense of Europe to NATO instead. Obviously circumstances are entirely different in the Australian case. 

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American oppositionEdit

The United States objected to the RCN having SSNs as part of its fleet, fearing a significant impact to its own submarine operations in North American waters and possible conflict over access to the Northwest Passage. In order to prevent this, the United States exercised its rights under two previously signed treaties. Under the 1958 US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement, the US had the right to block the sale of submarine nuclear reactors by the United Kingdom to any third party (i.e. Canada), and under a 1959 agreement between the US and Canada the US had the right to block the purchase of submarine nuclear reactors by Canada from any third party (i.e. the United Kingdom or France).[24] Attempts to negotiate with the United States were initially unsuccessful, as Canadian Defence Minister Perrin Beatty was "told in no uncertain terms by the U.S. Defense Department and submarine service officials that a Canadian nuclear submarine program was unnecessary and even unwelcome."[25]

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada-class_submarine

Edited by BansheeOne
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59 minutes ago, Adam_S said:

I think this is about a lot more than just sharing submarine technology. The intent seems to be to forge a strong military alliance in the area to counter rising Chinese power.

I think you are right, but if it turns out its just replacing French technical dominance for American technical dominance, its not going to work. There has to be a fairly equal workshare here. They dont just need to tech share, it also means helping the RAAN build up the skillbase to operate Nuc's, which must surely mean exchanges of personnel.

And further than that, does it mean basing Allied Submarines in Australia long term?I think Britain might get more out of that than America, but it would make up for the general lack of American SSN's through forward basing, which might be helpful. Putting it all in Japan might not be such a good idea anymore in an era of NK cruise missiles.

 

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1 hour ago, BansheeOne said:

It's on Wiki, actually. I find the bit about invoking those agreements is not sourced, though the link to a USN Postgraduate School thesis details the reasons for American opposition: that the SSN fleet would take up ressources to the detriment of existing Canadian NATO obligations, and that the intention of assuring national sovereignty in the Arctic would endanger US access to same vis-a-vis the Soviets, and possibly even give rise to future anti-American nationalism in Canada.

The former concern was actually shared by some in the UK, where it was noted the Canadians drew up the plan for 10-12 SSNs without any idea of the actual cost (which caused some consternation when calculated for them), and they would do better to provide more troops for the defense of Europe to NATO instead. Obviously circumstances are entirely different in the Australian case. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada-class_submarine

I remember the debate at the time and it never had a chance to get off the ground, so US opposition was just another grain of sand. The boats themselves were to follow the French model of nuclear powered SSK (ie electrical motors provide the propulsion with nuclear generated electricity), but the costs were huge, and the RCN had used submarines mainly as clockwork mouses, so it would have been a siginificant change there too.

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12 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

I think you are right, but if it turns out its just replacing French technical dominance for American technical dominance, its not going to work. There has to be a fairly equal workshare here. They dont just need to tech share, it also means helping the RAAN build up the skillbase to operate Nuc's, which must surely mean exchanges of personnel.

There's already a lot of ex UK personnel in the forces over here. I think the pay is a lot better in the ADF and you can get citizenship.

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1 hour ago, Adam_S said:

China looks like it plans to try to dominate the South China Sea using huge numbers of missiles launched from ships, shore bases and aircraft. Recent war game have, apparently, shown that US bases in the area are vulnerable to attack.

The obvious counter to this seems to me to be a combination of range, speed and stealth. Have assets that can base a long way away but that can get to where they need to be quickly and with a good chance of avoiding detection. Seed the area with drones for targeting and start chewing away at Chinese bases and ships with stand off weapons. Make the PLAN fear leaving port.

SSNs and long range stealth bombers like the B-21 look to be ideal for that kind of warfare.

A lot of the South China Sea is quite deep water too, especially the area around all those artificial islands the Chinese are building. While the area around Japan and Korea might be well suited for an SSK, I'm not so sure about the rest of it.

East-China-seas-South.jpg

There are surely a role for SSN. Even if not counting the SCS, there is still the role of patroling the waters around Australia, the western open Pacific and the Indian Ocean. It won't only be PLAN to keep note on, Russian subs will also have to be kept in mind as the PRC and Russia collaborate more than not. Also, if things do go to hell, having subs to patrol the Indian ocean can cut PRC lines of communication to and from the ME and Africa. So that's a big plus there. 

It should be assumed that the PRC has their own SONUS listening system in the SCS. So it'll be very dangerous. The PRC has a submarine base on Hainan island and they have lots of subs, nuclear and conventional. There is some deep water in the SCS, but its not like a wide open area where all vectors of approach and escape have to be analyzed. Limited pathing will make it dangerous. Not to saw SSN doesn't have any role in the SCS, tactical creativity plus combinatiin with US force would add additional pressure on PLAN in the SCS. 

But that still leaves the other issues of concern. As noted already, Australia would be near entirely dependent on the technology. And it'll be very expensive. No cost has been announced yet even. Maybe there won't be one until after the 18 month study phase, which would conveniently go after Australia elections. If this is 90 billion USD again, is it affordable? Is the design phase really going to be wrapped up in time efficiency or is this F-35 development all over again? And it also leaves the matter about crew size. The Virginia cut automation stuff to reduce cost but it still comes at 1.7 to 1.8 billion USD per sub. There's going to have to be some redesign. The Astute is smaller and its got (on paper at least) quite some impressive speed, but still not light on crew. 

With that stated, for comparisobs sake, I can't help myself bring up the Soryu again. A lengthened Soryu to increase endurance with lithium batteries is still an improvement in burst speed, sustained speed duration, reduction of charging time. The Type 212 sub should easily be able to stay submerged for at least a week. No idea how hard it is to stay submerged for 3 weeks but apparantly, it can do it. Lithium based Soryu subs should be able to match that so the tactical limitations is not like what it used to be for SSKs. The advantage of going SSN is not as great as it used to be. The Soryu comes with a crew of 65, only about 10 more than then Collins. The Astute comes with 110 and the Virgina comes with 134. So if development cost is to be kept low, then it probably means keeping things the same as it was. So the nuclear sub may likely be double in crew size. The Astute is also about 1.8 billion USD. The regular Soryu sub number 1 to 10 cost about 550 million USD. Soryu sub number 11 and 12 that mount the lithium batteries cost about 650 million USD. A lengthened Australian Soryu probably would be around 700-750  million USD. Australia is a country already spending over 2% GDP in defense, is only a country with 25 million population. So with all the desire to go with an SSN, is it rralky practical? The first sub is said to not be by 2040? And that's assuming no hiccups. That's a really long wait with lots of risk. Kawasaki and Mitsubishi have been pumping out subs every year for a long time. So in addition to lower crew, much less cost, the design is for the most part already there and the path of upgraded into the future is well secured as sub tech it high priority Japanese R&D with the first hull to splash much sooner.

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