Australia to acquire nuclear boats

The Astute class and the Viginia class seem to be the only realistic choices.
An indigenous design or highly modified versions of the above, are options that are probably far too risky.

Both options are very expensive, with the Virginia class being the most expensive, however for such a huge commitment, getting the greatest capability is of greater importance as far as deterrent value goes.

Availability and time-scale is a problem for both.

Interoperability in the indo pacific probably favours the Virginia class.

I suspect that despite the large price difference the Virginia class is likely to be the choice.

cant believe any figures from China…

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Good point.

Some Chinese figures can be though:

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“Perhaps the Australian government knows China is getting ( financially ) weak so good time to make a bold move”
No secret it has been on a downhill run for 4-5 years as ignored and mismanaged issues bubble to the surface.

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Xi may concentrate on external conflicts to distract the population from domestic problems.

Taiwan and the South China Sea territorial disputes appear resonate strongly with China’s urban populations (via Chinese international press).

External conflict may unify the population and relieve domestic pressures.

Xi knows he cannot afford to lose so he must act when success is guaranteed

This probably means sooner than later.

Hence the urgency for the submarine project if it is to contribute to any deterrence


I think the Chinese people are more concerned with their money than anything going on in the South China sea, cant see the ccp convincing the population that Evergrades collapse was caused by the west, they will try of course.
The huge property prices in China are the making of the local gov as they charge huge leases so the builders are squeezed, hence the bulk of a property sale cost goes to the gov.

Total cost to tear up the contract is $2B, including funds already spent.

“It might be being designed and sold by the government and the Press Gallery as an exciting new era of nuclear-powered submarines and a new Anglophone agreement to confront China, but today’s submarine announcement is cover for the most staggering piece of project mismanagement in Australian history, in our most important portfolio.

The government’s contract with France’s Naval Group for a new generation of submarines has been torn up. Presumably Scott Morrison delivered this news personally to Emmanual Macron during his lightning visit to the Elysee in June, or he should be prepared for some ferocious blowback from the French. We’ve already handed $2 billion, plus change (plus ça change, more accurately), to Naval Group for the design phase of the new subs. That’s gone down the drain. It was a tiny downpayment on the $90-billion odd it was going to cost to build the things at Australia’s low-efficiency, small-scale shipyards, but it’s not a trifling amount.

Why has the contract failed? Because building a generation of submarines to a highly modified design in Australia was always going to be profoundly difficult, and because the French were naturally eager to build as much of them as possible in France — not just for French jobs, but because they could deliver them more cheaply there. In the five years since the government announced the contract, that tension has never been resolved.

The whole debacle had its genesis in Liberal leadership tensions: Tony Abbott had the correct idea to purchase the vessels off-the-shelf from overseas — probably Japan — at a considerably lower cost. But his persistently bad polling, especially in South Australia, and the need to shore up the support of South Australian MPs in a coming leadership battle with Malcolm Turnbull, saw him change his mind and plump for building them locally — despite knowing that would add 30-40% to the price.

So, yes, we’ve already wasted billions and will waste many more, all because of an unsuccessful effort by Tony Abbott to save his leadership. Of such things is history made.

There’ll also be a break fee, of course, for tearing up the contract. A figure being touted is $400 million. If Naval Group is happy with such a small sum, that will be very surprising indeed — especially if Morrison blindsided the French, who now join the Japanese in having been dudded by Australia’s village idiot-level defence industry policy.

But even though we’re back to square one five years later: we’re stuck with the problem of politics: Morrison insists what is now being examined is that the new nuclear-powered American submarines will be built locally, meaning exactly the same problems as with Naval Group have just been kicked down the road. Congressional representatives and senators for Connecticut and Virginia, where the Virginia class boats are currently built, are probably already thinking about making sure as much of Australia’s subs as possible are built there.

And if the cost of the local build under Naval Group was huge, just wait. In 2018 ASPI’s Marcus Hellyer estimated that buying the Virginia class boats off-the-shelf from the US would cost about the same as the Naval Group build — though it would depend to a degree on the Australia-US dollar rate. The Americans could build the boats faster and cheaper, but the subs are much bigger than the ones we were getting from Naval Group (and need much bigger crews, which will be a problem down the track).”

Bernard Keane

lot of money just to design them to be right hand drive.

NYT today:

…The submarines won’t hit the water for at least a decade. But the geopolitical waves from their announcement have been instant, while giving Beijing time to marshal opposition among Asian neighbors and plot military countermoves.

Japan and Taiwan, both strong United States allies, quickly endorsed the security agreement.

Other Asian governments have, through their remarks or silence, signified misgivings or apprehension about riling China. Many leaders in Southeast Asia want the United States to remain a security mainstay, said Ben Bland, the director of the Southeast Asia program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney…

…Even before the deal, some governments had deployed new ships, submarines and missiles, at least partly out of worry about China’s rapid military buildup and contentious territorial claims. China accounts for 42 percent of all military spending across Asia, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies…

…Japan is working on hypersonic missiles that could threaten Chinese naval ships in a conflict. Taiwan, the self-governed island that China regards as its own territory, has proposed a $16.8 billion military budget for next year, including $1.4 billion for more jet fighters.

The Biden administration promises to help Asian nations counter China’s military buildup, something the new agreement with Australia highlights. That agenda is likely to be discussed in the White House this week when President Biden hosts other leaders from the “Quad,” the grouping that includes Australia, Japan and India.

Is this what Australia really wants?

A dozen diesel boats hiding at sea are a better deterrent than a nuke rusting in a shipyard.


France is quite embarrassed

There is to be a life extension program for the Collins class boats so Australia will still have the diesel boats.
There has been talk of leasing a nuke boats(s) perhaps a Dallas class boat, to gain nuke experience.

It is just a joke. The four Australian built Collins class boats used a Swedish Kockums design (Sterling engines!!) and equipment at great cost and as all was TOP SECRET, everybody got rich and happy. Imagine Aussies building submarines. Australia hasn’t even a merchant marine to talk about. They don’t even know how to build a ship (except some aluminium high speed crafts at Perth). It is fun to watch the nonsense. Nuclear powered! It is easy. The Russians will sell nuclear steam generators at low cost. But make it secret and it will cost 100 times more.

As long as China and the USA or any other country for that matter have intercontinental nuclear missiles that guarantee mutually assured destruction building another submarine or aircraft carrier does nothing but make submarine and aircraft contractors rich. The contractors along with their employees in parliament and congress have been playing the public for fools long enough that one would think the public would recognize their game. They claim they don’t have enough money to take care of their own citizens health and well being but don’t bat an eye at spending billions for another weapon that is useless in either preserving peace or winning a war.

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Big boys play dangerous games with expensive toys. (At taxpayer’s expense)

I watched a documentary on building the Sea Wolf nuclear boats at the Electric Boat Company. Unbelievable engineering at an unbelievable price.

Unbelievably high or low price??

From what I could see the pressure hull was fabricated as a series of rings with each module being partially outfitted with decks and machinery. the rings weighing about 400 tonnes each were transported to a covered dock for assembly.The tolerances were very fine and given the very special steel used the machining was exceptional. Given the cost it is not something our navy will be playing with anytime soon.