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Fast Track Aussie Nuclear Submarine Development, Says MP on AUKUS Anniversary

The Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Sheean comes alongside during a logistics visit to the port of Hobart, Tasmania, April 1, 2021. Royal Australian Navy photo

An Australian MP wants to speed up the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra to send a clear message to China and Russia that Australia will defend its sovereignty against their aggressive ambitions.

Andrew Hastie, speaking at a Hudson Institute event on the anniversary of the historic agreement to build a nuclear submarine force in Australia and share advanced technology between Canberra , London and Washington, said Australia wanted the submarine capability
“the next decade, if not sooner.”

He added that this insistence on strengthening sovereign defense is a lesson Australia has learned from Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion this year and China’s aggressive moves against Taiwan.

Australia will decide which model of submarine design it will follow – the US’s Virginia-class attack boats or the UK’s Astute-class – in the first quarter of 2023. But that’s only a step into the larger deal, he said.

Patrick Cronin, the Asia-Pacific Chair at the Hudson Institute, called Australia-UK-US [AUKUS] agreement “clearly a step forward”, and not only on the propulsion of submarines, but also on technology and the modernization of defense and security devices.

The Chinese “see [AUKUS] as a serious threat “to them, from advanced manned and unmanned underwater warfare to space to cyber,” he said.

The agreement took previous arrangements between the three nations and codified and institutionalized them on a host of technologies, said Bryan Clark, Hudson’s director of defense concepts and technologies. The nuclear propulsion portion will be the vanguard leading to further arrangements between the three nations on technologies ranging from unmanned systems, hypersonics, electronic warfare, quantum computing and eventually Canberra creating the equivalent of the American Defense Advance Research Projects Agency known as DARPA.

Clark said that with AUKUS “it looks like we are making progress” in the development of a number of technologies and, over time, this includes sharing “operational knowledge”.

“It’s really important that we get it right,” Hastie said. He added that the three nations should also consider how the agreement affects immigration and the movement of capital, in addition to the development, transfer and exchange of military technology.

“AUKUS is a good start,” he added.

The deal can also serve as a model for working with other allies, such as Japan and South Korea, and partners like India in defense technology transfers, panelists said.

“Australia is a rising power” in the Indo-Pacific and this commitment to a long-term security deal shows that, Cronin added. Hastie said that commitment was valid for all major political parties in Canberra.

In addition to AUKUS, Cronin cited Australia creating a space force to fill a gap in its future defense and showing that it will not let Chinese threats restrict its defense development. Clark said this expands the existing cooperation between the two nations when it comes to sharing such intelligence and data.

During the roundtable, Clark said the arrangement could also take advantage of Australia’s geographic location by locating land-based global strike weapons, giving Canberra a new capability “to deter and defeat ambitions and ambitions.” ‘Chinese aggression’.

Looking ahead, Cronin said, “AUKUS is a major technology accelerator to build on” for the future security of allies and partners in the region, as it involves more than building nuclear submarines.

As the former deputy defense minister in the Australian government who brokered the three-nation deal, Hastie said Canberra saw the need for it with the expanded cooperation between Russia and China. It created “a strange new monster” born out of “a great grievance against America”. Examples of the heightened threat posed by this Beijing-Moscow cooperation in recent months can be seen in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China firing missiles through Taiwan, he added.

Hastie said China’s goal is to make it the great power in the Indo-Pacific – economically, diplomatically and militarily – and to replace the model of cooperative relations of the United States in the region. by an authoritarian model.

“We must not overestimate China’s capabilities,” nor underestimate those of democracies, he added.

Hastie said the United States must develop a strategy that “goes beyond the Congressional cycle [and] goes beyond the presidential cycle” which can respond to Chinese and Russian challenges in the long term. “We are looking for the next decision from the United States.”