UK defence ministry says the brand new SSN-AUKUS vessels ‘would be the largest, most superior and strongest assault submarines ever operated’ by its navy.
The UK has awarded three UK corporations a 4 billion pound ($4.9bn) contract to design and manufacture a nuclear-powered assault submarine as a part of the nation’s AUKUS programme with Australia and the US.
The UK Ministry of Defence, in a press release on Sunday, mentioned the contract with BAE Techniques, Rolls-Royce and Babcock “represents a big milestone for each the UK and the trilateral AUKUS programme as an entire”.
The brand new submarines, often known as SSN-AUKUS, “would be the largest, most superior and strongest assault submarines ever operated” by the Royal Navy and can “mix world-leading sensors, design and weaponry in a single vessel”, it mentioned.
The primary of the submarines shall be delivered into service within the UK within the late 2030s and the primary Australian ones will observe within the early 2040s.
The plans for SSN-AUKUS have been unveiled in March by the leaders of Australia, the UK and US and got here because the three nations ramp up their efforts to counter China within the Asia Pacific area.
The nuclear-powered vessels – which have far higher stealth and vary and mark the primary time Washington has shared nuclear-propulsion expertise with a rustic apart from the UK – characterize a big improve to Australia’s present diesel-powered fleet.
Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles beforehand described the AUKUS deal as “the most important step ahead in our navy functionality that we’ve had for the reason that finish of World Conflict II”.
Below AUKUS, Washington additionally intends to promote Canberra as much as 5 of its Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines within the early 2030s.
It’s going to additionally see US and UK submarines deployed in Western Australia as quickly as 2027 to assist practice Australian crews.
Analysts say the AUKUS programme will strengthen deterrence within the face of China’s more and more assertive actions within the Pacific, together with within the South China Sea the place it has constructed navy bases on disputed outcrops and reefs.
“As extremely stealthy platforms, SSNs’ potential to function in contested waters, hunt Chinese language warships and submarines, management strategic sea lanes and chokepoints, and venture energy with long-range cruise missiles make them some of the efficient methods to complicate Chinese language navy planning and provides Beijing a purpose to take pause earlier than utilizing pressure,” wrote Ashley Townshend, a senior fellow for Indo-Pacific safety on the Carnegie Endowment for Worldwide Peace suppose tank, in a commentary in March.
“The truth that US, UK, and, in time, Australian SSNs shall be working as a mixed pressure—with Aussies additionally embedded on American and British subs—raises the specter of horizontal escalation by forcing Beijing to think about the prospect that navy motion in opposition to any SSN, or the submarine base itself, might set off the involvement of all three nations,” he added.
China has in the meantime condemned AUKUS as an unlawful act of nuclear proliferation.
Its international ministry has accused Australia, the UK and US of travelling “additional down the improper and harmful path for their very own geopolitical self-interest”. The AUKUS pact arises from a “Chilly Conflict mentality which can solely encourage an arms race, injury the worldwide nuclear proliferation regime, and hurt regional stability and peace”, it mentioned.