Australia to operate nuclear-powered submarines based on British design

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Australia will operate a new generation of nuclear-powered submarines based on a British design as both countries modernize their navies.

The Aukas deal – involving Australia, the UK and the US – will see the new boats come into operation in the late 2030s following a construction phase that will create thousands of jobs in the UK.

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The new SSN-Aukus submarines will be in operation for the Royal Navy by the end of 2030 under the plan, and will also give Australia its first nuclear-powered capability.

The UK submarines will be built mainly by BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria and Rolls-Royce.

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They will replace the Royal Navy’s Astute-class boats when they enter operation.

The plan could double the number of UK hunter-killers.

The Australia boats will be built in South Australia using some components manufactured in the UK, and will be in service in the early 2040s.

Rishi Sunak, Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese and US President Joe Biden met in San Diego to announce the next phase of the AUCS programme.

As part of the agreement, Australia will purchase US Virginia-class submarines in the 2030s as a stop-gap measure until the new ships become operational.

The new submarines will also incorporate American technology.

Mr Sunak said: “The Aucus partnership, and the submarines we are building in British shipyards, are a concrete demonstration of our commitment to global security.

“This partnership was established based on our shared values ​​and a steadfast focus on maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

“And I’m very pleased that the plans we’ve announced today will protect our people and our partners in pioneering British design expertise for generations to come.”

The Aukas partnership was announced in 2021 as Australia sought to respond to China’s assertive actions in the Pacific.

The latest step comes as the UK publishes its updated Integrated Review of Foreign and Security Policy, which highlights China’s “more aggressive stance”.

The deal sparked a diplomatic rift with France, which had hoped to supply diesel-powered submarines to the Canberra government.

The £5 billion extra to defense announced by Mr Sunak will partly help develop the next phase of the AUCUS programme.

This will be followed by continued funding over the next decade and will build on the £2 billion invested in our Dreadnought-class submarine program last year.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This is an important step for our three countries as we work together to contribute to security in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.

“Supporting thousands of jobs across the UK, with many in the North West of England, this effort will drive prosperity in our country and demonstrate the power of British industry to our allies and partners.”

The Aucus program will result in closer cooperation between the three countries.

Beginning in early 2023, Australian military and civilian personnel will embed with the US Navy and Royal Navy and in industrial bases in both countries to accelerate training of Australian personnel.

The US plans to increase port visits by nuclear-powered submarines to Australia this year, with increased visits to the United Kingdom in 2026.

From 2027, UK and US boats could be deployed on “forward rotation” to Australia to help train and develop expertise.

All three countries insisted that the agreement did not increase the risk of nuclear proliferation.

The ships would have conventional weapons and nuclear reactors would be turned off and would not require refueling over their lifetime.

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