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Sunday, March 26, 2023


Australia To Buy 5 US Nuclear-Powered Submarines In Deal To Counter China

In a major expansion and overhaul of its navy, Australia is planning to buy up to five US Virginia class nuclear powered submarines beginning in the next decade, Reuters and others are reporting. US as well as European officials have disclosed the future deal as part of a “landmark defense agreement between Washington, Canberra and London, four U.S. officials said on Wednesday, in a deal that would present a new challenge to China.”

The impending agreement is seen as central to the relatively new AUKUS partnership, and the major sub deal is expected to be announced when President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meet in San Diego Monday.

Image source: Navy Lookout

When the partnership was first announced and formalized eighteen months ago, President Biden said of it, “We all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term,” and that “We need to be able to address both the current strategic environment in the region and how it may evolve.”

The nuclear submarines at center of the expected deal cost $3 billion each and will initially be built in Virginia and Connecticut. But sources say other submarines could be built in the UK and Australia while utilizing US technology and assistance. 

The AUKUS partnership has multiple defense components components, chief among them the development of the nuclear submarine capability for Australia. This has been known since the AUKUS agreement was announced in Sept. 2021, but this week marks the first time specifics have been revealed.

Other components include security cooperation in cyberspace, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and undersea capabilities. While the US, the UK and Australia already take part in common security arrangements, and all three participate in the Five Eyes alliance, an intelligence-sharing arrangement that also includes Canada and New Zealand, the AUKUS security structure provides for the technology cooperation needed to share nuclear submarine technology and other common efforts in a region where China poses growing security concerns.

But Western leaders while discussing AUKUS have taken pains to avoid calling out China directly, but it’s clearly aimed at countering Beijing’s influence in the Indo-Pacific, and certainly China sees it as directly impacting its own defense priorities – and has accused Australia of severely violating prior commitments to not introduce nuclear weapons or nuclear technology to its military.

This post was originally published on this site

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