Collins Class Submarine
Cameron Stewart | December 26, 2007
AUSTRALIA will build the world’s most lethal conventional submarine fleet, capable of carrying long-range cruise missiles and futuristic midget-subs, to combat an expected arms race in the region.
New Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has ordered planning to begin on the next generation of submarines to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins-class fleet with the aim of gaining “first pass” approval for the design phase from cabinet’s National Security Committee in 2011.
The 17-year project will be the largest, longest and most expensive defence acquisition since Federation, potentially costing up to $25 billion.
It comes at a time when regional navies such as Indonesia’s, China’s and India’s are seeking to drastically expand their submarine fleets, potentially altering the balance of naval power in the region.
“There is widespread agreement that submarines provide a vital military capability for Australia,” Mr Fitzgibbon told The Australian.
“The development of new submarines requires long-term planning and needs to progress quickly, and that’s what I have asked for.”
Defence planners have examined two key studies this year – one by independent think tank the Kokoda Foundation – which have concluded that strategic shifts in the region will make submarines a more vital cog in Australia’s defence than ever before.
Defence will study a wide range of futuristic options for the new submarines, which will be built in Adelaide and will replace the six Collins-class submarines when they are retired in 2025.
The new submarines will almost certainly be built by the builder of the Collins-class fleet, the Australian Submarine Corporation, once the government-owned ASC has been privatised.
“South Australia is the only credible location for the construction of Australia’s next generation of submarine,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
The aim will be to create the world’s most deadly conventional submarine fleet to allow Australia to maintain its strategic advantage over fast-growing rival navies in the region…….