Australia to build new nuclear-powered submarines with US, UK technology, may potentially scrap submarine deal with France

A Virginia-class nuclear submarine of the US Navy. Photo c/o Defence Connect.


The United States of America and United Kingdom has announced on 16 September 2021 that they will assist in building new nuclear submarines for Australia, as part of a new defense alliance between the three countries.

The new defense pact, confirmed during a joint virtual media conference by US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, is proposed to be called the AUKUS alliance and will be formed in response to the increasingly complex security situation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The design and construction of new nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is among the priority projects of the proposed alliance, allowing Australia to augment US naval presence and capabilities in the region as US policies are being focused in the Indo-Pacific region.

Although no announcement has been made yet, this new submarine program might and is expected to replace the controversial A$90 billion (US$66 billion) submarine deal with France, which has been struck in 2016 but has hit cost overruns and has not moved forward according to Australia’s desired schedule and programming.

France’s Naval Group has proposed the construction of 12 Attack-class conventional-powered submarines based on the Barracuda Shortfin diesel-electric submarine design, to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s existing fleet of Collins-class submarines.

The Barracuda Shortfin was derived from the French Navy’s Barracuda-class nuclear-powered attack submarine design.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison clarified that, while the new submarines will be nuclear powered, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, and will only focus on military nuclear propulsion systems and civilian nuclear technology from the US and UK.

The new submarines will be built in Adelaide, South Australia, and would make Australia one of only a handful of countries with nuclear-powered submarine technology and construction capability.

Over the next 18 months, the US and UK will dispatch technical and strategic teams to help Australia identify the pathway to acquire nuclear submarines and technology.

The US is particular in sharing nuclear submarine technology and has only done so in 1958 when it shared technology to the United Kingdom.




[1] 9 News
[2] ABC News
[3] CNN

Australia to build new nuclear-powered submarines with US, UK technology, may potentially scrap submarine deal with France Australia to build new nuclear-powered submarines with US, UK technology, may potentially scrap submarine deal with France Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on September 16, 2021 Rating: 5

1 comment

  1. Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea will get their nuclear sub soon, not violating any international rule.

    ReplyDelete