Nuclear-powered submarines do not need to surface for air, allowing them to be stealthier for longer in the Indo-Pacific region. The Virginia-class submarine will give China enough reasons not to venture into Australian waters.
China has sent its J-11A and H-6K bombers to Japanese, Taiwanese, Indonesian and Malaysian airspace threatening peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Chinese maritime militias are threatening the Philippines and Vietnamese fishermen to leave their sovereign waters and hand-in Exclusive Economic Zone to Xi Xinping’s authoritarian regime.
China even has a plan referred to as “space Pearl Harbor”, after the Japanese attack in Hawaii in World War II. China would launch a surprise attack that takes out US satellites and cripples America’s military.
Australia’s decision to build eight nuclear-powered submarines with U.S. technology will buttress America’s undersea edge over China and could help create a network of submarine defenses from the Indian to Pacific oceans to help deter Beijing from expansionism.
This will more tightly enmesh Australia into the US orbit. Technologically and militarily, it means if the US goes into a conflict in the Indo-Pacific region, it would be much more difficult for Australia not to be directly and almost automatically involved.
The other side of the argument is this is a good thing because it will at least incrementally add to the deterrence against China.
Nuclear-powered submarines do not have the same limitations that face conventional submarines on weapons storage, speed and endurance. They can stay completely submerged for many months, limiting the opportunities for detection by adversaries.
As a three-ocean nation, it is necessary for Australia to have access to the most capable submarine technology available. As a nation, we are ready to take the step to pursue the most advanced submarine technology available to defend Australia and its national interests.
Australia has no plans to acquire nuclear weapons and this proposal will remain consistent with Australia’s longstanding commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. All three nations are deeply committed to upholding leadership on global non-proliferation.
The Government’s intention is to build nuclear-powered submarines in South Australia, maximising the use of Australian workers.
Building the submarines in Australia is the best way to develop a strong and effective sustainment industry, which will enable us to meet every requirement to safely operate and maintain nuclear-powered submarines.
“Well, I don’t think that we can avoid saying that this is probably part of this soft-balancing against China.”, said Vice President Kamala Harris during her visits to Singapore last month.
Last month, US Vice-President Kamala Harris toured Singapore and Vietnam, warning China: “We welcome stiff competition — we do not seek conflict. But on issues like you raise, the South China Sea, we’re going to speak up.
“We’re going to speak up when there are actions that Beijing takes that threaten the rules based international order.”
The hope is that the AUKUS security pact will make the stakes higher for Beijing and the prospects of success in a war lower.
The benefit of nuclear submarines is you don’t have to snorkel: They allow you to stay submerged and be stealthier for longer. The conventionally powered (diesel/electric) submarine does not have the same range without exposing itself to detection by surfacing.
This potentially will transform the ability of the Australian Defense Force to operate at range around Australia and beyond, and operate more closely in an integrated way with the US and UK.
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