OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 4:02 PM – Monday, March 13, 2023
As anxiety over China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific area grows, President Joe Biden and the heads of two important U.S. allies formally confirmed on Monday that Australia will purchase nuclear-powered attack submarines from the United States to update its fleet.
In the Australia-U.K.-U.S. agreement known as AUKUS, Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described a three-phrase strategy that results in London and Canberra building enhanced versions of the extremely sensitive warship for their navies.
“Today, as we stand at an inflection point in history, where the, where the hard work of advancing deterrence and promoting stability is going to affect the prospect of peace for decades to come, the United States can ask for no better partner in the Indo-Pacific, where so much of our shared future will be written,” Biden said.
Phase one of the “Optimal Pathway,” which Biden articulated, includes American and British submarines visiting Australian ports and integrating those sailors into their armed forces and nuclear power training facilities. Australia does not use nuclear propulsion in its submarines. However, the United States and the United Kingdom do. The three nations will take part in a rotating submarine force fittingly titled Submarine Rotational Forces West beginning as early as 2027.
In Phase two, Canberra will purchase three Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines from the United States, with the option to purchase two more, if necessary, after a sufficient amount of Australians have been trained and the nation has the infrastructure to house numerous subs. If funding from the United States and Australia and infrastructure upgrades for American shipyards are successful, that will happen in the 2030s.
The agreement’s core is Phase three, which will start late in the following decade. SSN AUKUS, a new nuclear-powered submarine that Britain will construct and deliver to its own military, will incorporate American Virginia-class technologies. Based on the same revolutionary design, Australia will do the same for its fleet in the early 2040s.
The submarines will take the place of Australia’s fleet’s Collins-class diesel-powered submarines. The advantages of nuclear propulsion systems will drastically improve Australia’s underwater capabilities, enabling the submarines to cruise at sea for extended periods of time and have almost infinite range without needing to dock for refueling.
Australia will reportedly contribute an undisclosed amount of funds to help in that effort.
Despite three successive administrations promising more money, more forces, and more attention to offset China’s brisk military growth, the submarine and technology contract represents the biggest tangible step Washington has taken so far toward focusing more on the Indo-Pacific.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks stated at the Pentagon’s $842 billion budget announcement on Monday that the investments are mostly aimed at deterring China.
“This latest budget expands production capacity even more, and procures the maximum amount of munitions that are most relevant for deterring and, if necessary, prevailing over aggression in the Indo-Pacific,” she said.
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