Breach of the contract of the century: Australia is in doubt about its future submarines

The Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, visited the Élysée Palace on July 1. When the government in Canberra began to fix things in France, many questions remained about the future of Australian submarines. (©Naval Group)

In the early morning of September 16, 2021, australian broke the “Contract of the Century” with France for construction of twelve hybrid submarines, for the benefit of American and British technologies. If during the five years working together the French file has always ridiculed in the Australian press and the political opposition, Australia has a course. But within a few months, new doubts showed, lack of visibility.

In recent days, the question of whether Australia will have new submarines soon has even begun to appear very concretely on both sides of the world.

Neither the United States nor the British had the direct capacity to build it.

Baptized “Aukus”, the new agreementwhich is binding Washington, London and Canberra “for generations”, must see United States share theirs nuclear powered submarine technology with Australia.

Several reportsincluding one from US Congresshowever, show that the industry is at the limit of its production capacity for the needs ofUS Navy and that it will happen other needs are difficult to meet. And according to the leading British daily The Guardian“Australia has almost no chance of getting a submarine”.

The American Defense, which precedes the country’s armies (the US Navy must send every year, from the mid-2020s, two attack submarines and a ballistic missile submarine), has deal capacity constraints, while inflation and rising raw material costs significantly increase the cost of producing and building new submersibles. If it exists, the invoice therefore amount to plus billion.

Voices call to speak to France again

always according to The Guardianthe other ally, the UKit shouldn’t be neither is the ability to respond quickly to Australian expectationswhile Australia considered the British at the end of last year for the construction of its submarines.

In mid-July, the Australian Defense Minister, Richard Marlesexplained that his country plans to announce the selection of a nuclear submarine in the first quarter of 2023. In a forum, the Australian think tank The Translatorlocated in the middle right, opened the possibility of returning to France for their establishment. Especially since diplomatic relations have calmed down since the election of the Prime Minister Anthony Albanian and the defeat of Scott Morrisonthe one that violated the strategic partnership contract with France.

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It seems unlikely at this stage, but these positions struggle to hide worry because of the situation, and the reviews who made themselves heard in the Antipodes.

From here to 2040Australia must retirement of its aging fleet of submarines in the Collins class. Today seems to be today it is unlikely that the country will be able to build new submarines. So it is necessary upgrade the old ones to allow them to keep it available for a little while. And according to some estimates, it can be expensive an additional four billion euros.

The bill seems too heavy

So it’s a real blow for Australia, which must face the retirement of its submarines by 2040 and which is at risk of not finding a replacement before that date. The only option is to upgrade the Collins to keep their operation longer than planned.

Let’s remember that after breaking the contract with France, a payment of 555 million euros payable in Australia at Naval Group to put an end to the financial end of the activity of French submarines. The bill is heavy!

This time, not only Australia still no new submarines orderedthat cost him, whatever happens, more expensive than the contract with the Naval Group, but they will also come Later. Above all, the country no longer knows who really wants to build it in the nearest future.

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