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The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I am not convinced by this program. For me Australia’s biggest security problem is Indonesia not China. And they need assets in numbers to deny those narrow(er) seas. And a handful of SSN’s isn’t enough in numbers or indeed the right tool of the job.

Oddly as I have said before here the best for the RAN’s needs re SSN is the French Suffren. Smaller and less technical than Astute or SSN(R).

SD67

The 1970s just called – they want their foreign policy back

Duker

Lets think of a name for it , how does SEATO sound
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeast_Asia_Treaty_Organization

Craig

The selling point of the Astutes/ Virginia’s is the nuclear power pack not requiring replacement during service life with the RAN. That’s why Aust did not choose a French nuclear design. Plus, Indonesia is not a threat. China has everyone focused. Even the Vietnamese are cooperating with the US and The Philippines has reinvited the US back to set up bases!

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

As I said in technical terms and size wise it is the better fit. Even then refuelling that could have been undertaken in France. Then didn’t choose the French design because the US told them not to choose the French design

Population of Indonesia, 273 million. Population of Australia, 25 million

China is 4000 kilometres away.

comment image

Oli

Wasn’t Australia buying diesel electric version of French subs rather than a nuclear version – the main selling point of AUKUS is getting nuclear technology to Australia which allows subs to stay hidden practically indefinitely?

Duker

Yes. But the flip flop to nuclear meant the original Suffren SSN could replace . Its the same hull.
The refuelling of the French design of LEU reactors – could be every 6-8 years, but they design in that process with bolted on hull openings- meant sovereignty wasnt Australian during the refuelling.
Of course operating a US or UK nuclear boat without many many smaller items sourced from those countries meant the absolute sovereignty is ‘nominal’

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Yes they were. Once more and I will try to use simpler language. WHEN IT COMES TO SSN’s THAT BEST SUIT AUSTRALIANS NEEDS THE FRENCH SUFFEREN IS PROBABLY THE BEST CHOICE AS IT SMALLER THAN ASTUTE AND SSN(R) AND A LOT SIMPLER.

Rudeboy

It’s smaller…and the capability it offers is corresponding to its size…

The French are years behind the US and UK in nuclear subs. The Barracuda Class is only their second SSN Class. Their first attempt, the Rubis was dire and decades behind the US and UK. Things haven’t improved with the Barracuda….ever wondered why they’re building a Trafalgar Class sized sub whilst the US and UK are building SSN twice the size? They’re not doing it for fun….

Duker

The French have made a feature of their low enriched uranium design reactor allowing it to be much smaller. The shorter time between refuelling’s means bolted on access plate above the reactor makes the process doesnt require cutting the hull. Since a major overhaul every 8-10 yrs is required for any sub its part of that process.

Is a part of the French civilian nuclear reactor infrastructure to save costs and maintain its ‘Frenchness’ . UK has to include US features

https://uploads.fas.org/2016/12/Frances-Choice-for-Naval-Nuclear-Propulsion.pdf

Jeffrey Smidt

And less capable.

Rob

Mate if the French built it then it’s inferior…..period! Plus the French build even with the conventional design boat would have meant far less Australian content and certainly far less sovereign build capability in Australia. My experience of French boats was that they were noisy and noise mate is something a submarine doesn’t want.

Hugo Barrington Smythe

What are you on about , the French subs were diesel electrics ?

Duker

It was proposed to convert nuclear to diesel electric for Australia
They are building for themselves only nuclear

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Oddly as I have said before here the best for the RAN’s needs re SSN is the French Suffren. Smaller and less technical than Astute or SSN(R).

Do you know what SSN means? Or are you just trolling? Or do you have comprehension problems?

Rob

French Suffren SSN (N=nuclear). Less diving depth than either the Astute or Virginia class (& even Los Angeles class). Not as stealthy. Much older basic design than either Astute or Virginia. Less speed. Reactor core needs replacing 2 to 3 times during life span at a cost of about 300 million every time. Not interchangeable parts with either or including especially weapons systems. So if you buy a Suffren you have to buy French weapons and French weapons systems….NO THANKS!

pjh

And the Population of China is 1400000000, Can’t see your point.

Supportive Bloke

Nuclear nonproliferation might be a factor perhaps?

Also, the French don’t have the capacity to refuel more submarines back in France. That then means nuclear compliant refuelling facilities being built in AUS.

I can see the complications TBH.

Then you stir in the French penchant for taking over and leveraging things in proper colonial style. Would you want to be locked into a 50 year program with the French as the only viable supplier?

Turnip

Anyone who thinks Indonesia is more of a threat than China doesn’t live anywhere near Australia and hasn’t moved out of the 1970’s.

Jonno

Who’s side you on? In my family we had a rule and we had a big business too; never do a deal with the French, they will always game the contract. I’m just looking forward to the 7th boat.
You notice they never buy British; ever. RR marine engines never and they tried to grab our electric motor production and move it to France. Get the picture? Remember the Yanks have a soft spot for the French.
The Yanks already bought into a contractor for a vital piece of kit for the Astutes. We need to stop being a patsy to the world and being careful of our industrial base and stop any more sell off if we can.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

All I said was the French boat was a better fit.

Sean

It isn’t, the fuel used by French SSNs make them a refuelling liability.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

For the final time. I AM TALKING ABOUT THE SIZE AND TACTICAL ASPECT OF THE BOATS. THEY ARE A LOT SIMPLER THAN ASTUTE. THAT IS WHAT I AM DISCUSSING. THE BOAT AS DEPLOYED AND IN USE.

Wasp snorter

Bold uppercase makes me understand French subs so much better.

Sean

Shout as loud as you like, it doesn’t make you right. Doesn’t matter if the the French-design subs are more ‘tactical’ if you can’t put them to sea because you are waiting-for, or can’t even ge,t the French to periodically refuel them for you…

Also French subs can’t fire Tomahawks or fire Spearfish, respectively the best cruise missile and torpedo round, which undermines your ‘tactical’ argument.

Last edited 7 months ago by Sean
Duker

I understand your point. But some of the claims are a bit wild

2018- Rolls-Royce has received its first order for the new sixteen-cylinder engines in its successful Series 8000 range: French shipbuilder Naval Group has ordered a total of 20 MTU 16V 8000 M91L engines, each delivering up to 8,000 kW of mechanical power. These are to be installed in the French Navy’s five new FTI-type frigates

Olympus was certainly used in french frigates/destroyers, more recently they have switched to Avio built GE LM2500.They have their own marine diesel maker Pielstick, but now owned by MAN- who had bought up the previous Bristish diesel ‘names’
Mirlees, Napier Paxton Rushton

Hugo Barrington Smythe

And Russia wasn’t going to invade Ukraine either !

Duker

Invasions are often for the wrong reasons, just like the US-UK invasion of Iraq . Were you opposed to that for the right reasons ?
Most of Europe didnt think Russia would invade either but for once the US intell was right , which Boris was also privy to. No one predict Kyiv would last more than a few weeks.
I was one of those who was wrong for the right reasons- the Russians couldnt win and here we are. Many now think Ukraine will win…..

Jonathan

It’s not a narrows it’s a sea the Timor sea has an average depth of over a thousand meters and cover 250,000 square miles…with the distance by sea between the main land mass of Indonesia and Australia being more than 2000 miles apart. It’s perfect for a SSN, that’s a lot of space to dominate and a SSN can transit quickly to any point. It is most definitely not an enclosed crowed sea like the Tiawan strait that is a Chinese electric boat heaven.

Last edited 7 months ago by Jonathan
Duker

You dont want to be a nuclear sub in most of the shallow South China Sea. The deep water passages from Australia through the Indonesian archipelago are limited unless a new submarine base is established – and they are looking at this- on the east coast which takes you north to the Pacific itself and more the Philippine Sea.

Looking at the whole region Perth is about as useful for submarine base for patrols around China as NZ is !

Jonathan

Indeed, one of the big problems for the west is that all I’d the china seas, but especially the strait of Taiwan are not great for nuclear boats, the strait is essentially a suicide mission. That’s one of the reasons china has invested in building a fleet of very small electric boats.

One of the more effective things the ROC and west could do is actually support and get tiawan a fleet of modern effective small electric boats. Not the antiques they have at present.

OkamsRazor

What nonsense, as I currently have a member of said nations FR&D parliamentary committee staying, what profound evidence do you have to support your assertion, please do share. And as for Saffren. As AUS have been all over this for years possessing detailed inside intelligence and then rejecting it in favour of US/U.K. boats. Do tell us of your superior knowledge.

Roy

Interesting article but is not last submarine in Astute class Agincourt, rather than Agamemnon?

Challenger

Renamed from Ajax wasn’t it once the British Army christened their new armoured vehicle that!

Duker

I had thought that too , but when I looked into it Aga was the first choice, a bit weird as Achilles would have been a better known Trojan war name and RN lineage

Watcherzero

Yeah but Achilles was best known for his weakness.

pjh

She did alright at the River Plate.

Æthelwulf

You state that Australia will only build 5 boats, and that 3 boats will be bought from the USA. This contradicts the Australian Government statements that 8 boats will be built in Australia.
Given the plan is to operate a fleet of 8 SSN, with an approx 25 operating life, a drumbeat of one boat entering service about every 3 years would be very sensible and is what I would expected.
The first three boats will be 2nd hand Virginia class boats bought from the USA. The first entering service in the early 2030’s, the last one would enter service in the late 2030’s and then, 3 years later in the early 2040’s the first of the AUKUS boats would enter service with Australia (assuming no prolonged build delays). The expectation is the the Virginia class boats would still have about 15 years of service life remaining when entering service with Australia.
This means that around the time the 5th AUKUS boat enters service, the first of the Virginia class will be near to decommissioning. So the AUKUS build will need to keep going up to the full 8 boat build, with the last 3 replacing the 3 Virginia’s.
Even if the AUKUS build is delayed, and 4 or 5 Virginia’s are be bought, the same principle applies in that they will each be replaced by a AUKUS boat as they decommission and thus keeping the number built in Australia fixed at 8.
Obviously this is a long-term plan, stretching into the 2060’s and beyond. Whether this plan weathers all storms unchanged for such a long period is anyone’s guess.

Jon

Whether the Aussies will only build 5 AUKUS depends more on when the next design comes around than whether the Virginias are included in the first eight or not. Unless the next design is ready after the first five are built, they’ll probably keep building AUKUS to replace the Virginias. If we assume the UK SSN schedule will drive the design at 25 years, it won’t be ready in time to get an operational boat until around 2060, so the next two or three Australian boats will be part of the AUKUS run as Æthelwulf said. That would mean you’d both be right: the Virginas are included in the first 8 and the Aussies will build 7 or 8 AUKUS.

I’ll bet the decision simply hasn’t been made yet. Even if it had, there’d be nothing to stop it being changed until contracts are placed around 2030. How many they’ll actually run is all subject to the whims of future governments.

Watcherzero

Australia uses a whole life accounting model (where operating and maintenance costs are treated the same as Capital costs). What they have is a 30 year plan that extends to 2055. The industrial plan extends into the following decade, after the peak strength is achieved between 2055 and 2065 the Virginias would progressively be replaced by AUKUS as they reach retirement maintaining the strength at 8 boats but thats outside the 30 year funding envelope.

Marcus

Mead is just referring to the make up of the first 8. The government’s intent is to keep building SSNs in Australia to replace the Virginias and then to replace the first AUKUS SSNs. This government and the previous one both seek a continuous naval shipbuilding industry. Of course, it will be after 2055 when the fifth Australian AUKUS-SSN is delivered so a lot can happen between now and then. But the current intent is continuous SSN construction.

March9999

I disagree with your contention that it will be 8 boats. It will actually be many many more. Australia won’t simply build 5 or 8 and then close up shop. They will continue to build new boats long into the future.
This is an amazing leap not only in military capability but in long term diplomatic and strategic strength. The price is high but Australia will now have global strike AND naval interdiction capability.

Theoden

Good article as usual but have to disagree with an Astute based in Oz helping retention. The Aussies will be flashing the cash to RN submariners and i’m sceptical as to whether the RN, Treasury or both will do anything meaningfull to mitigate it. The payrise announced last week is much better than nothing but I just can’t see any grounds for optimism on recruitment and retention in the longterm.

Duker

Yes. Apparently their current diesel boats are likely to have skippers recruited from other nations … South Africa, Netherlands.
The crewing will be double what they have now per boat , and 50% more boats.

The 8 subs is ‘aspirational’ and the sceptic in me doesnt see the US and Electric Boat letting those later orders go elsewhere, especially after training up for US builds.

A.N. Other

This should be a very real concern but one that the RN won’t think about it until it becomes a problem, that’s if retention doesn’t hit crisis point before then.

Last edited 7 months ago by A.N. Other
Theoden

Listening to Ben Wallace in Parliament today on job flexibilty etc i’m a bit more optimistic but i’m still sceptical we can solve recruitment and retention without a big increase in pay scales across the board and in specialist trades in particular. But that will cost serious money and that means persuading the Treasury. I hope i’m wrong but it might need manpower problems hitting the CASD to get ther attention. We’ll see. On Astute vs Virginia I don’t see the problem.

Duker

Ben Wallace on job flexibility ?
this is the guy who’s quitting because he couldnt get the top civilian job at Nato

Jon

He’d obviously have quit if he’d got the NATO job too. He’s ready to move on either way. Why does that make him inflexible?

Duker

Come on . No one would even know who he was recently other than getting snubbed for the NATO job. Maybe he could have been quite good at it, but he doesn’t tick any diversity boxes and isnt part of Rishaks crowd

Deep32

‘Astute-class’ poor availability! Based on what exactly and compared to what class?

Duker

Thanks for that useful background.

JadedSkate

I’m sure that the Russians and Chinese are really pleased about your revelations.

Rudeboy

If the RN haven’t agreed a no-poaching/compete clause with Australia regarding crew they need their head examining…

Sunny Faslane (which is already a retention disaster as everyone predicted it would be) or Garden Island Western Australia…you pick…

Theoden

I doubt anything like that would stand up legally. I’m no lawyer but it sounds like restraint of trade. If we can’t stop (theoretically) ex RAF pilots helping train the Chinese Airforce we couldn’t stop RN submariners joining the RAN when they leave the Andrew.

Theoden

First the good news then the bad. Thanks. LOL.

Last edited 7 months ago by David Steeper
Ron

I know I am going to get some stick for my comment but here goes. Would it not be better for the RN if they had two versions of the future SSN-AUKUS platform. One batch of four boats with four Virginia-Payload Modules and a further batch of six boats with no VPMs for the pure hunter killer role.

My prefrence in an ideal world would be for five boats (SSGNs) with VPMs, one with the carrier group, one operating independently, one in high readyness, one in work up and one in refit. Eight hunter killer subs, four deployed and four undergoing refit, repair readyness etc and four SSBNs. I do remember reading somewhere that the future RN would have upto 15 SSNs, as much as I wish that were true I don’t think it will happen.

Reason; the bigger the boat the more noise it could make, the more sea room it needs, the less maneuverable the boat is. A sub with four VPMs would almost be the same size (not wieght) as a Vanguard class SSBN. However, a VPM equipped SSN-AUKUS boat would be a very good escort for a Carrier Task Group. These boats would be able to attack coastal defence systems before the F35Bs go in.

As for the pure hunter killer version, with Aus getting their own SSN-AUKUS the RN would not need to deploy a hunter killer to the Far East so they could be used in the North Atlantic, Norwegian Sea. Possibly the future hunter killer could have a Flexible Payload Lock as in the A-26 Belkinge class for SBS/ROV/AUV operations. Saab does have a good portfolio of underwater systems designed for the FPL. I must admit I do like the Swedish A-26 design concept, possibly we could use some of the ideas from the Swedes.

Watcherzero

Bigger isnt necessarily louder, it allows more room for insulation but yes less manoeuvrable. However the expectation is the extra volume wouldnt just be used for conventional weapons but also a mini-sub hanger option, special forces diving equipment, USV’s and even aerial recon drones.

Interested Observer

The article’s headline is “Understanding the timeframe” but your author’s comment about only 5 AUKUS SSN’s to be built for the RAN shows a lack of understanding of the timeline.

The drive towards having 8 submarines in the fleet will start with the first two Virginia’s arrival circa 2032 with the 3rd Virginia arriving about the time that the first Collins class (Farncomb) is expected to retire (2038). After that, the total numbers may drop slightly with further retirements but, as there will be no more Collins class involved in Full Cycle Dockings, the number of boats available for deployment should remain at the desired level. The possibility of two additional Virginia’s at a later stage is obviously planned in case there are delays in the AUKUS SSN project to ensure that there are adequate numbers.

Unlike the journalists’ interpretation in those previously quoted articles, I don’t see it as a possible reduction in the number of AUKUS SSN’s to be built in Osborne. The last five Collins class are planned to retire at 2 year intervals from 2040 to 2048 with the replacement AUKUS SSN’s probably coming at slightly longer intervals but they would be aiming to have the 6th & 7th boats entering service circa 2052-54 to replace the first two Virginia’s (based on the assumption that they have 20 year’s service left when joining the RAN). The 8th boat may be delayed as the 3rd Virginia would have sufficient life to serve until 2071 (assuming a newly built hull entering service in 2038). If it’s not practical/desirable to interrupt the production line, they could bring the 8th boat into service and operate a 8 + 1 fleet until the last Virginia retires, or look at other options such as returning it to the USN.

Duker

Virginias are 33 year service life, 25 years is way too short for a modern nuclear SSN reactor . The carriers are around 45 years but can be longer when Nimitz were refuelled every 14-16 years, not sure the Fords can go the full 45 yrs without at least 1 refuel

Jack N

Mate, good post.

I was about to write something very similar until I saw your post. Yes the article is not as well researched as it should be.

Firstly the article doesn’t represent the LOTE of the 6 x Collins boats accurately, the graphic shows the class leaving service by the early 2040s, when in fact the last boat is planned to operate until 2048.

Also, the assumption that the RAN will only procure 5 x SSN AUKUS is inaccurate too, the Government isn’t going to spend the many billions of dollars setting up an SSN manufacturing facility and then shut it down after five boats is rubbish.

As you pointed out, the first two ‘pre loved’ Virginia class SSNs are planed to enter RAN service from approx 2032, and have approx 20 years service life, which of course means they will leave service starting from about 2052.

Clearly a 6th and 7th SSN AUKUS will be required to replace those two boats.

The 3rd Virginia will be a new build with approx 30 year service life, and will likely operate until the very late 2060s or early 2070s.

We may well see a 8 + 1 operational SSN fleet for a period of time.

Lets not forget the current ALP Government is talking 8 x SSN, the previous LNP Government, that started the AUKUS plan, had said ‘at least eight’ SSNs.

Anyway, over the coming decades there will be plenty of Federal elections and changes of ALP to LNP Governments, etc, we could see changes of numbers over those decades too.

In the distant future we may also see, in between replacement of previous SSN classes, opportunities for Australian industry to supply modules to the RN and USN.

Time will tell.

Cheers,

Duker

Impossible that the last Collins will go to 2048 – just cant no matter what some plan may say
As well you say ‘isn’t going to spend the many billions of dollars setting up an SSN manufacturing facility and then shut it down after five boats is rubbish.’
Collins production closed after 6 boats, DDG closed after 3 ships.
Production follows the orders and likely Australia will only build sections of Uk design. The production process is very slow and Australia decided to get out of *manufacturing* in all its forms from the 80s-2010 when car building close. Once they built large bulk carriers/tankers , also in South Australia but that ended around 1980.

 Its wishful thinking around the whole submarine build , but at least the other day someone realised even a Commonwealth Games wasnt affordable anymore

Jack N

Collins won’t last until 2048? Rubbish.

Let’s do some simple maths for you.

First Collins will commence LOTE in 2026, will re-enter service in 2028, the LOTE adds 10 years service life, boat retires in 2038.

Last Collins will commence LOTE in 2036, will re-enter service in 2038, LOTE adds 10 years service life, boat retires in 2048.

Yes In the past Naval Shipbuilding has been a dogs breakfast, all true, but so what? Things change, there will be enough Naval projects in the decades ahead to feed the yards in both SA and WA.

What has the Melbourne Commonwealth Games got to do with anything? That is a State Government decision, has nothing to do with Federal Government decisions.

Anyway, happy to agree to disagree, as the old saying goes “opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one, or knows one”.

Duker

Federal government is even worse than the States in these sorts of things a few years back around 15 members of parliament were disqualified as they weren’t even eligible to stand, the PMs change more often than say Italy but with different versions of Boris Johnson
. Collins themselves were a byword for what not to do in a shipbuilding project, even worse than Britain

Duker

Last Collins built, the Sheehan was commissioned 2003 , so is 20 yrs old already, it should be almost ready for LOTE, but you say it can’t happen till 2036 when it’s 33 years old. Some simple maths for you means a 33 yr old vessel won’t be fit for a life extension by then.
Reality is money and workforce issues plus actual obselence will most likely mean say 3 Collins will never get life extensions and if they ask me it would the newest boats that would be done at all.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Post AUKUS there has been a shift in thinking on defence in Canberra. More platforms with more firepower is not the fashionable thought. So yes I can see why the talk has gone from a more ‘firm 8’ from ‘at least 8’.

Duker

author’s comment about only 5 AUKUS SSN’s to be built for the RAN shows a lack of understanding of the timeline.

Yours is the incorrect understanding. The RAN Vice Admiral *says* its only 5

the full quote from the Navy Lookout link to Guardian report
Vice admiral Jonathan Mead, the navy’s nuclear-powered submarine taskforce chief, told estimates last week the government had “indicated eight nuclear powered submarines for Australia.
Based on our modelling and working with our US and UK partners, we are looking to have a fleet of eight SSNs for the Royal Australian Navy in the mid-2050s,” he said.
The Greens senator David Shoebridge then said: “Sorry, eight Aukus-SSN?”
To which Mead replied: “No, eight nuclear powered submarines. That includes three of the Virginias.”

No way to spin this otherwise.

Jon

Tosh. He’s talking about the fleet make-up in the mid-2050s, as an admiral not a shipbuilder or a politician; what happens after that and whether manufacturing continues as part of the same batch run is simply not part of his point. He’s not quoted anywhere in that Guardian article saying only five AUKUS subs will be built.

Duker

Admiral Mead is the guy in charge of the submarine programme. Quotes are taken from a parliamentary enquiry into the same submarine program, so hes under oath.

D B

The RN has a solid history of submarine combat system development and the 2076 integrated passive/active sonar suite fitted to the Astutes is widely regarded as best in class. The Spearfish MoD 1 torpedo is also first-rate and may be superior to the US Mk 48 Mod 7. The BAE Systems/Thales technology of RN submarines is quite different to the Lockheed Martin-made equipment fitted to Virginia and Collins class.

The idea that we’re abandoning our own systems development seems rather worrying. Given the importance of ECM/ACM surely it makes sense to have multiple different submarine sensors within the alliance?

Mark

Suppose it comes down to costs, if the US and Australia are investing more in a larger “fleet” of systems is it cost viable for the RN to sustain the industrial and R&D base for a smaller number? Same argument really no matter what hardware a nation is buying.

Supportive Bloke

It is about sovereign control and the dreaded ITAR the killer of all things good with US collaborative defence exports. Essentially collaborate with the US and they control it.

Bit like collaborating with Germany on Typhoon.

Esteban

There is a simple solution….don’t collaborate. The UK put itself in this situation. It is reality. Complaining about it doesn’t really help.

Paul Bearer

Nailed it once again.

Duker

Yes. The US has always been an ‘awkward’ ally.
Their first war after independence from Britain was against its ally the French in the war of independence – without whom they wouldnt have won a decisive victory.
Its the so called Quasi War – because it was undeclared – naval battles began after the US refused to repay the loans from France and other maritime issues

Arjun

History will recall that the Royal Navy was used by the British in dope pushing.

In 1839, the Chinese government placed restraints on the British opium trade with China. Under the Daoguang Emperor, Chinese officials impounded opium from India.
But the British insisted on the British Empire being allowed to export opium to China and instituted a blockade of Guangzhou by the Royal Navy, thus beginning the First Opium War. 

There was a Second Opium War from 1856 to 1860 again involving the Royal Navy. In 1857, the British captured Canton and threatened Beijing. They were thrown back by the Chinese in 1859 but succeeded the following year. 

As a result of these actions, Britain gained a base at Hong Kong in 1839 and a base in Canton in 1857.

JadedSkate

And how exactly is that worthless snippet from history relevant to this discussion?

Sean

History also records the Royal Navy was used for the suppression and abolition of the Atlantic slave trade.
Your point?

Jon

I agree with DB. If it was viable for SSN(R) it would have been viable for SSN-AUKUS. It’s not like we are building fewer boats.

I don’t know why we haven’t insisted on modularity rather than compatibility. We have gone for the superior US VLS, fair enough, but there was no UK reason for the UK boats to be compatible with US combat systems unless we expect crews to be interchangeable too. We know that the Aussies want to be able to run Virginia and AUKUS at the same time, but we want to run Astutes and AUKUS. It just means losing more sovereignty and paying more money to the US.

James

Elon Musk should be banned

G Mooney

Shipmate as the foremost expert on submarines in the RN I can tell you that real threat is somewhere else in Africa.

Junglierating

Id say the real threat is somewhere in central london…just sayin’

Sean

Blackfriars Rd…

DaSaint

Good article. I could differ on some points, such as the total number of SSN-AUKUS, but things will change over time. More than likely, the RAN will continue to produce these subs or their successors as long as they maintain a relationship with the RAN and USN.

The key will be the support of US & UK infrastructure, plus the buildout of shoreside and shipyard infrastructure in Australia over the next several years. Plenty of work here for BAE, Babcock, and others.

Back to the subs:
The RAN version will certainly have the US-based systems.
The RN version will continue to use UK-based systems.
Both will have VPM or its successor.

Mark Tucker

You may be correct. It may end up being like the Type 26 program. The Australian Hunter Class shares nothing from a system point of view with the RN Type 26. This resulted in a five year delay of the Australian program while this work for completed.

Even if the RN where to take on an AUKUS class boat that used mostly US systems, you would expect to see some delay in the RN program as the BAE team scrap a lot of their work and start over. It is not like Lockheed martin as going to have a solution sitting on the shelf. A delay similar to Hunter would be a reasonable expectation. You don’t see any provision for such a delay in the article above, which I find strange. I don’t see how you could change so much and not have some schedule slip.

I suspect everything we have heard re AUKUS is very high level. It would not surprise me if the the BAE design team found out about decision to use a common set of systems based on US systems at the same time we did.

That does not make the announcement from March right or wrong, just a statement of aspiration. I assume the detailed analysis of how to execute such an aspiration as only just beginning.

The more they change from the original plan for SSNR the longer this is going to take.

I suspect we will be hearing a lot more about this in the next couple of years as the design team submit their solutions to the problem they have been handed.