Australia will break a record A $ 90 billion defense contract with France (almost $ 66 billion at current exchange rates) for the construction of submarines for the project to build nuclear submarines for its Navy using American and British technologies. For this, a new defense agreement will be concluded with the United States and Great Britain, directed against China, according to ABC TV channel, citing sources.
According to the TV channel, Canberra’s agreement with Washington and London, which will be called AUKUS, may be signed in the coming days. It should replace the original plan for the construction of 12 conventional submarines designed in France. The agreement on cooperation in the construction of nuclear submarines with Australia implies a joint containment of China’s activity in the South China Sea, especially in the area of the disputed Spratly Islands.
It is assumed that within the framework of the Australian-American-British agreement, nuclear submarines will be built, which will be based in Western Australia at a minimum distance from the South China Sea. According to the channel’s sources, the program for the construction of nuclear submarines will be overseen by retired US Vice Admiral William Hilarides. He currently chairs the Advisory Panel of Experts on Naval Shipbuilding to the Australian Federal Government. The technical characteristics of nuclear submarines and their possible weapons were not disclosed.
The contract with France for the construction of 12 ocean-class submarines Shortfin Barracuda Block A1, agreed back in 2017 with the French company Naval Group (then known as DCNS), was supposed to be the most expensive in the history of the Australian Navy. It envisaged the design and creation of conventional submarines “superior to all available in the region” from 2030. Then the agreement was calculated not only for the construction of boats, but also for the creation of infrastructure for their basing, as well as technical support and training of crews for 50 years.
Paris managed to win this contract in competition with Tokyo. Cooperation with the latter in the military-technical sphere was rejected, since, according to Canberra, it could cause complications in relations with China, which then had tensions with Japan, including over the disputed islands.
Now the news of Australia’s decision to break the agreement was delivered to Paris by the Secretary of the Australian Ministry of Defense, Greg Moriarty. Negotiations on this issue with French President Emmanuel Macron may take place tomorrow, September 16. Officials have not yet commented on the information about the breaking of the old and the preparation of a new agreement.
Now the basis of the Royal Australian Navy are six Collins-class submarines, they were supposed to be replaced by submarines of the French project, and now – nuclear submarines jointly with the United States and Great Britain. Collins-class submarines were designed in 1987-1989. by the Swedish company Kockums and built in the 1990s. at the Australian shipyard in Adelaide. They are armed with American Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Mark 48 Mod 4 torpedoes, and are also capable of planting mines.