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One white elephant submarine deal replaced with a worse one

Australia’s submarine policy has previously eschewed nuclear propulsion. Now, as a dowry for receiving such largesse, Canberra is offering up Australia as a confirmed US asset in policing the Indo-Pacific. US Navy commanders will be smacking their lips at maintaining attack vessels in Australia as part of the arrangement……

Nuclear white elephants: Australia’s new submarine deal, Green Left, Binoy KampmarkSeptember 16, 2021Issue 1319Australia  Few areas of public expenditure are more costly and mindlessly wasteful than submarines. Australia’s effort is particularly impressive.

Pick a real winner by signing a contract for a yet-to-be-designed attack class submarine, supposedly “necessary” in an “increasingly dangerous” region. Ensure the submarine design is based on a nuclear model, but remove that attribute and charge at least twice as much for a less capable weapon. Make sure the order is for 12 of these yet-to-be-designed-and-built systems. And make sure that they are only ready sometime in the 2030s (by which time they risk being obsolete).

The dubious honour for this contract, initially costing $50 billion, went to the French submarine company DCNS (now called Naval Group), which nudged out German and Japanese contenders with pre-existing designs………

The French military establishment praised it as the “contract of the century”. Le Parisien’s editorial lauded the prospect of thousands of jobs. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian proclaimed a “50-year marriage” had begun……..

On September 15, the Canberra press gallery was awash with rumours that a divorce was being proposed.

The following day, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a security ménage à trois with the United States and Britain, with Australia as the subordinate partner. The glue that will hold this union together is a common suspicion: China.

Replacing the Attack Class submarine will be a nuclear-powered alternative with Anglo-American blessing, based on the US Virginia class or British Astute class.

The joint statement announcing the creation of AUKUS said the three countries were “guided” by “enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order”. They resolved “to deepen diplomatic, security, and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.”

AUKUS, they said, would be a new “enhanced trilateral security partnership” to further such goals.

The agreement is nothing less than an announcement to the region that the Anglophone bloc intends to police, oversee and, if necessary, punish…….

The first initiative is a “shared” ambition “to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy”. US and British expertise will be drawn on to “bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date” from the submarine programs of both countries…..

Australia’s submarine policy has previously eschewed nuclear propulsion. Now, as a dowry for receiving such largesse, Canberra is offering up Australia as a confirmed US asset in policing the Indo-Pacific. US Navy commanders will be smacking their lips at maintaining attack vessels in Australia as part of the arrangement……

The enduring problem of Australia being able to build these submarines will have US lawmakers pushing for their construction on home soil, a situation that  could mirror the Naval Group contract headaches. Australia also lacks a shipyard able to build or maintain such vessels.

In helping create AUKUS, Canberra has exchanged one white elephant of the sea for another. It has also significantly increased the prospects for a potential nuclear conflict in the Indo-Pacific region. The warmongers will be ecstatic.

[Dr Binoy Kampmark lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email bkampmark@gmail.com.]  https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/nuclear-white-elephants-australias-new-submarine-deal

September 21, 2021 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, technology, weapons and war

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