Recently, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States unveiled plans to provide Australia with conventionally armed, nuclear-powered attack submarines in the early 2030s to counter China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific. The arrangement was made through the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) enhanced security partnership.
GS III: Defence
Dimensions of the Article:
- AUKUS Deal and SSN-AUKUS:
- What is AUKUS?
- Benefits of Nuclear Submarines for Australia
- Under this deal, the United States intends to sell Australia three US Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines built by General Dynamics in the early 2030s, with an option for Australia to buy two more if needed.
- However, the multi-stage project will culminate with British and Australian production and operation of a new submarine class – SSN-AUKUS – a trilaterally developed vessel with the best technologies and capabilities of all three countries.
AUKUS Deal and SSN-AUKUS:
- The AUKUS deal is a defence agreement signed between Australia, the UK and the US in 2021.
- It aims to assist Australia in deploying nuclear-powered submarines in the Pacific region to counter China’s ambitions in the area.
- Here, SSN-AUKUS is the name given to the future attack submarine for Australia and the UK, designed through the combination of the UK’s submarine design and advanced US technology.
- SSN-AUKUS will be built in domestic shipyards in Australia and the UK before the end of this decade.
- The UK is expected to receive its first SSN-AUKUS in the late 2030s, and Australia is expected to receive the submarine in the early 2040s.
- The submarines will be nuclear-powered but not equipped with nuclear warheads, and the deal includes commitments to the countries’ respective nuclear non-proliferation obligations.
- The deal also involves provisions to improve infrastructure and industrial capacities, as well as greater integration of the countries’ submarine forces.
What is AUKUS?
- A 2021 defence deal between Australia, the UK and the US
- Aims to help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines in the Pacific region
- Officially made to emphasise the countries’ “shared commitment to a free-and-open Indo-Pacific region”
- Intended to combat China’s ambitions in the region
- China has staked territorial claims across the resource-rich region and has multiple nuclear-capable submarines
- AUKUS was signed to bolster Australia’s naval power in the region
- The partnership was described by the then Australian PM Scott Morisson as a “partnership where our technology, our scientists, our industry, our defence forces are all working together to deliver a safer and more secure region that ultimately benefits all”.
Benefits of Nuclear Submarines for Australia:
- Near infinite endurance: Nuclear-powered submarines have an internal nuclear reactor, which gives them the ability to operate and stay submerged for long periods without needing to surface to recharge their batteries.
- Faster and more advanced: Typically, nuclear submarines are faster and more advanced than conventional submarines, which allows them to reach far out into the ocean and launch attacks on the enemy.
- Greater range and capability: Nuclear submarines like the SSN-AUKUS will give the Royal Australian Navy the capability to go into the South China Sea to protect its assets and conduct patrols, which it currently does not possess.
- Improved strategic position: The nuclear-powered submarines will enhance Australia’s strategic position in the Indo-Pacific region and provide a significant boost to its naval power.
- Commitment to non-proliferation: The new deal includes “clear commitments” to the countries’ respective nuclear non-proliferation obligations, ensuring that Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines will not be equipped with nuclear warheads.
Source: Indian Express