The big news this week is the formation of a new Australian-UK-US military alliance (AUKUS).
With this new alliance, the first major initiative is helping Australia build nuclear powered submarines for its navy. Both the US and UK have already announced that the three countries will work together and that UK-based BAE Systems as well as high-tech experience sharing will be put into this project.
This also means, as reported by Financial Express Online, that the agreement that was signed with the French Naval Group to build these submarine posts was canceled. The Naval Group is assisting India in the construction of “Scorpene” class submarines for the Indian Navy under Technology Transfer.
The trilateral security pact was jointly announced by the three leaders: US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, virtually.
Teams from the three countries are expected to present a plan over the next 18 months to build these nuclear-powered submarines. Once Australia has these submarines, it will become the seventh country in the world to have nuclear submarines that are expected to be built in Adelaide.
Although no one mentioned China, the new military alliance will play a huge role in the Indo-Pacific and address the strategic environment in the region. According to experts, the idea of ensuring that the expansion of the Chinese presence is reduced.
The Chinese have reportedly deployed a range of anti-ship missiles and surface-to-air missiles there in the resource-rich South China Sea. It has rejected the claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia, and has also challenged an international court decision that declared China’s claim unfounded. Billions of dollars worth of sea trade passes through the South China Sea annually. Once upon a time China was one of Australia’s biggest trading partners. However, over the years, the relationship has deteriorated. Due to China, Australia had withdrawn from the Malabar exercise with the US, India and Japan.
And, 13 years later, Australia is part of QUAD and has joined the Malabar exercise. Beijing has imposed economic sanctions on Australian products.
The new alliance will help create more jobs in the defense sector. And the submarine project, which will take a couple of decades, will require the most advanced technology. The project involves the construction of 12 state-of-the-art attack class submarines that were previously intended to be built by the French company Naval Group. The French company Naval Group had signed a $ 90 billion deal in 2016, but due to several rounds of design changes, escalating costs and other delays have led to the deal being scrapped.
Australia and NPT
These submarines are going to work with the help of enriched uranium.
Will Australia abide by the NPT?
Australia insists there are no plans to possess nuclear weapons. It has publicly declared that it will comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
An official statement issued by the British government states that the Derby-based Rolls-Royce and BAE systems will be part of this project. The reactors for the Royal Navy’s submarines will be built by Rolls-Royce and BAE systems through its US arm are likely to be part of the design and production of the submarines.
Nuclear vs. Diesel Powered Subwoofers
This allows attack submarines to stay at sea for a long time. According to a former naval officer, a nuclear-powered submarine can stay underwater for up to five months and operate very quietly, unlike the diesel-powered Collins-class submarines currently operated by Australia.
Submarines with conventional diesel engines are used for defensive operations and nuclear powered submarines have the ability to travel very long distances undetected and at high speed. Diesel powered submarines have batteries that keep the boat underwater, but not for long.
New technologies now exist that allow submarines to stay underwater for long periods and move faster than conventional submarines. – Air Independent Propulsion (AIP). Fuel cells should only be used at the most strategic times, especially when submarines need to stay underwater for longer periods. And it can only be charged on land.
Under AUKUS, the Australian Navy will have the ability to move quietly in the South China Sea and conduct patrols and protect its assets.
Does China have nuclear powered submarines?
Yes. And also their submarines have the ability to launch nuclear missiles.
Under AUKUS, the three countries have clearly stated that there are no plans to arm the new nuclear-armed submarines. The United States has shared nuclear propulsion technology with the United Kingdom in the past, under an agreement related to the exchange of nuclear energy between the two countries since 1958.
Why are nuclear submarines important?
These submarines have been classified as “SSN” according to the US Navy’s hull classification system. The “SS” stands for “submarine” and the “N” stands for nuclear. And, a nuclear powered submarine that has the ability to launch ballistic missiles is – “SSBN”.
Paris is upset. Knock it out
The cancellation of the agreement for the construction of submarines has upset France. And he has been expressing it vocally in different forums.
Does India have nuclear powered submarines?
Yes. India is one of the six countries that have SSN. The other countries that have this include Russia, France, China, the US, and the UK.
In 1987, the Soviet-made Charlie-class SSN K-43 joined the Indian Navy. This was first with the Red Fleet of the former USSR in 1967 and was leased to the Indian Navy and was named INS Chakra and decommissioned in 1991.
India obtained another Russian SSN on a 10-year lease in 2012 and has been named INS Chakra II.
And in the meantime, it was kept strictly secret, India was quietly working on building its own SSN – INS Arihant, which was commissioned in 2016. And another SSN INS Arighat was launched in 2017 and is expected to be put into service soon.
Since INS Arihant has achieved the ability to launch nuclear weapons, in 2018 it has been categorized as SSBN and completes India’s nuclear triad.
What does the nuclear triad mean?
It means that India now has the ability to launch nuclear weapons from land, submarines, and planes.