Nuclear Submarine deal

 
Topic moved from The Lounge by bevans on 17 Sep 2021 08:03
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Tenders for the British Astute-class were called in 1993. The first was laid down in 2001. There are currently four operational boats in a planned fleet of seven. It has taken more than 25 years to build a decent-sized fleet and it will be 2026 before the project is completed. Their submarines are replacing existing nuclear-powered submarines. (They have 20-or-so decommissioned nuclear submarines lying about the place that they have not yet been able to dismantle.) Apart from the traditional delays and cost overruns, they had to seek the assistance of the Americans. Building the submarines in Adelaide would add years to the project, a luxury Australia can’t afford.
kitchgp
Yeah, we just wouldn't build them here, I have no doubt that eventually we could, but the lead time would be just huge.

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  M636C Minister for Railways

"we are dependent on the Americans for the software and their network integration (we'd only get the latest downloads if they thought *they* needed us to have it). "
I don't claim to be an expert, but I was under the impression that that was already the case with the Collins class.

In fact, my impression was that the big problem we had was we couldn't install the updates fast enough to keep up with the Americans...

But one of the big problems with the French boat was installing the American system without the French finding out the details...

Peter
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
"we are dependent on the Americans for the software and their network integration (we'd only get the latest downloads if they thought *they* needed us to have it). "
I don't claim to be an expert, but I was under the impression that that was already the case with the Collins class.

In fact, my impression was that the big problem we had was we couldn't install the updates fast enough to keep up with the Americans...

But one of the big problems with the French boat was installing the American system without the French finding out the details...

Peter
M636C
Correct, the updates are not quite 'sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y', and you can bet a goodly number of the US 'updates' are a bit more than a software patch, there are required hardware changes too.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

The Japanese are on our side... That's why we were intending to buy their product - Japan was so on our side, that Australia was keyed up to be the first ever Japanese military hardware export contract - they basically had to change Japanese laws to allow themselves to export to us!
...
Japan are a massively friendly, valued ally to the US, Australia, and most countries excluding ....
Aaron

I think you are getting your wars confused.

Japan were our allies in WWI, but not in WWII.

I remember who our allies were in WWII, and remain steadfastly loyal, so I won't hear or speak a bad word about them.  Anyone who does forget who our loyal WWII allies were, well, they might need to be re-educated.
  303gunner Train Controller

The Japanese are on our side... That's why we were intending to buy their product - Japan was so on our side, that Australia was keyed up to be the first ever Japanese military hardware export contract - they basically had to change Japanese laws to allow themselves to export to us!
...
Japan are a massively friendly, valued ally to the US, Australia, and most countries excluding ....

I think you are getting your wars confused.

Japan were our allies in WWI, but not in WWII.

I remember who our allies were in WWII, and remain steadfastly loyal, so I won't hear or speak a bad word about them.  Anyone who does forget who our loyal WWII allies were, well, they might need to be re-educated.
djf01
Ahh, so you're a big fan of the Chinese Communist Party, who we supported in WW2 in the fight against the Japanese?
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I think you are getting your wars confused.

Japan were our allies in WWI, but not in WWII.

I remember who our allies were in WWII, and remain steadfastly loyal, so I won't hear or speak a bad word about them.  Anyone who does forget who our loyal WWII allies were, well, they might need to be re-educated.
Ahh, so you're a big fan of the ...
303gunner

I'm a huge fan of using WWII metaphors when discussing our friends in North Asia.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
I think you are getting your wars confused.

Japan were our allies in WWI, but not in WWII.

I remember who our allies were in WWII, and remain steadfastly loyal, so I won't hear or speak a bad word about them.  Anyone who does forget who our loyal WWII allies were, well, they might need to be re-educated.
Ahh, so you're a big fan of the ...

I'm a huge fan of using WWII metaphors when discussing our friends in North Asia.
djf01
Then you need to get better at metaphors and geography. North Asia is regarded as Siberia - Russia, they were WWII allies too, and are not likely to be a threat to Australia.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I'm a huge fan of using WWII metaphors when discussing our friends in North Asia.
Then you need to get better at metaphors and geography. North Asia is regarded as Siberia - Russia, they were WWII allies too, and are not likely to be a threat to Australia.
Aaron

I am now deeply concerned.  If @Aaron can't understand my metaphor, what will the AI calculating my credit score think?
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Why use a metaphor? It’s China that’s the threat, no one else, you don’t need to try and hide it, China certainly doesn’t.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Why use a metaphor?
Aaron

Partly to convey more meaning than the obvious, at least to those smart enough to work it out.  But also - to mix a metaphor - I see no personal benefit in being the boy who pulls his finger out of the dyke just point it at the Emperor (of Japan, clearly) and his new clothes.
  Mr. Lane Chief Commissioner

Having a nuclear powerplant enables the RAN to project power closer to enemy shores. Is it possible that these boats will carry tactical nuclear weapons at some point in the future? If the regional situation dictates it, why not?

One thing is for sure, the Collins boats will need to carry the can for a while to come.
They could in theory launch a tactical cruise missile like a Tomahawk with a nuclear warhead.

The US and UK both carry Tomahawks on some of their submarines, but they are not nuclear armed. The US fires them from vertical launch tubes and the UK from the torpedo tubes.

Australia is acquiring Tomahawks to be fired from the Hobart class destroyers.
I am not sure that there are any operational W80 warheads for the Tomahawks left - which is awesome if it’s true.

The US and NATO would never say this, but I don’t think submarines are the primary vehicle for carrying nuclear weapons anymore, if they are, it would be the SSBN and SSGN boats only I would think. The missile launching tubes would be well shielded and the concept of a nuclear torpedo or other nuclear weapon launched through a torpedo tube would be gone.
Aaron
There are no nuclear Tomahawks left since they were decommissioned after the collapse of the Soviet Union and even then they were never carried by submarines or ships, they were all ground launched. Warhead was the W84. In *theory* though there is nothing stopping the development of a sub launched nuclear Tomahawk going forward, but yes, it would be highly unlikely.

No US surface ships carry nuclear weapons at all today also having been withdrawn after the end of the Cold War.
  Mr. Lane Chief Commissioner

Having a nuclear powerplant enables the RAN to project power closer to enemy shores. Is it possible that these boats will carry tactical nuclear weapons at some point in the future? If the regional situation dictates it, why not?

One thing is for sure, the Collins boats will need to carry the can for a while to come.
They could in theory launch a tactical cruise missile like a Tomahawk with a nuclear warhead.

The US and UK both carry Tomahawks on some of their submarines, but they are not nuclear armed. The US fires them from vertical launch tubes and the UK from the torpedo tubes.

Australia is acquiring Tomahawks to be fired from the Hobart class destroyers.
I am not sure that there are any operational W80 warheads for the Tomahawks left - which is awesome if it’s true.

The US and NATO would never say this, but I don’t think submarines are the primary vehicle for carrying nuclear weapons anymore, if they are, it would be the SSBN and SSGN boats only I would think. The missile launching tubes would be well shielded and the concept of a nuclear torpedo or other nuclear weapon launched through a torpedo tube would be gone.
I think you are right.

I get the feeling that countries don't actually like having nuclear war heads off shore in the hands of a few people in a sub.

While there are numerous safety and security systems in place and no doubt improved over the years there has been more than enough near misses through misscommunication on nuclear warhead subs that could have started a nuclear conflicts for the powers at be to collectively $hit themselves. So without an immediate threat that requires first strike capability parked off-shore of your enemy, its better to keep these toys on home soil and focus on other means of obtaining first strike.

Also didn't some years back the US cease having air born missiles kept in the air at all times?
RTT_Rules
Well that just is not the case...submarines are THE preferred way for most powers to carry and launch nuclear weapons.

China, France, India, Russia, the UK and US all have nuclear armed ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). In fact submarines are now the only method the UK has to deliver such weapons and the US has been talking about whether they should decommission their ICBM silos and spend the money elsewhere.

Both the Koreas have been developing conventionally powered ballistic missile submarines, though South Korea does not have a nuclear weapons program...officially.

The US only flew 24/7 nuclear airborne alert in the 60s until the Polaris submarine launched ballistic missile entered service.
  Mr. Lane Chief Commissioner

Nuclear power sub's are very hard to find at sea …
Diesel-electric subs are even harder to find, if they have a skilled crew who manage their battery usage well to avoid getting detected when snorkelling.

RAN Collins Class have killed US aircraft carriers and LA Class nuclear subs in exercises.

Not so good for the sort of patrols that the RAN needs to conduct to keep trade lanes open and conduct electronic surveillance.
I think part of the decision not to pursue Nuclear Subs in 2016 was resistance from within the RAN, who had developed superb Submarine skills in both the Oberon Class and later the Collins Class boats. The RAN was well aware that a Diesel-Electric Sub was superior in covert operations and avoiding detection compared to a Nuclear Sub.

Having worked with the USN frequently on exercises, the RAN had found that the US Nuclear boats were noisier than the Oberon and Collins boats, and also that the US Anti-Sub crews were more used to the noise of nuclear boats and were not well attuned to finding a skilfully handled diesel boat. On one memorable joint exercise, an Australian Sub tasked with "Attacking" a US carrier group (HMAS Onslow during RIMPAC98), not only successfully approached the US ships, but successfully "Sank" several including the Carrier USS Carl Vinson, and surfaced 300m away from it Completely undetected! This is the ONLY occasion in 65 years of joint naval training exercises (with multiple nations navies) that a US capital ship has been sunk by a submarine.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/cold-war-exploits-of-australias-secret-submarines/news-story/2b5a9a088125b1873777ec8cc60cd79b
303gunner

I call smeg on this. The Swedish Gotland class also had success sinking US carriers. In fact it was so successful the US Navy hired the Sweads to train against for several years. The Gotland class (which the Collins is related to) uses a Sterling Engine and is remarkably quiet.

SSKs with Air Independent Propulsion do not need to surface to recharge but they cannot run at speed like this. They are great for hiding along the coast in the shallows, but they are not going to be dashing across the ocean at 20+ knots without surfacing.
  Transtopic Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I'm certainly no expert in the field of submarines, but I'd be interested to know from those more knowledgeable what would be the best choice submarine to meet Australia's strategic interests, whether nuclear or diesel-electric, without being overly influenced by an alleged direct threat from China or wishing to tie ourselves to the US strategic interests?  This is aside from the contractual commitments we had with the French.  Do we really need to adopt a forward defence strategy with long range submarines, just to appease the US, rather than focusing on our own backyard?
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Having a nuclear powerplant enables the RAN to project power closer to enemy shores. Is it possible that these boats will carry tactical nuclear weapons at some point in the future? If the regional situation dictates it, why not?

One thing is for sure, the Collins boats will need to carry the can for a while to come.
They could in theory launch a tactical cruise missile like a Tomahawk with a nuclear warhead.

The US and UK both carry Tomahawks on some of their submarines, but they are not nuclear armed. The US fires them from vertical launch tubes and the UK from the torpedo tubes.

Australia is acquiring Tomahawks to be fired from the Hobart class destroyers.
I am not sure that there are any operational W80 warheads for the Tomahawks left - which is awesome if it’s true.

The US and NATO would never say this, but I don’t think submarines are the primary vehicle for carrying nuclear weapons anymore, if they are, it would be the SSBN and SSGN boats only I would think. The missile launching tubes would be well shielded and the concept of a nuclear torpedo or other nuclear weapon launched through a torpedo tube would be gone.
I think you are right.

I get the feeling that countries don't actually like having nuclear war heads off shore in the hands of a few people in a sub.

While there are numerous safety and security systems in place and no doubt improved over the years there has been more than enough near misses through misscommunication on nuclear warhead subs that could have started a nuclear conflicts for the powers at be to collectively $hit themselves. So without an immediate threat that requires first strike capability parked off-shore of your enemy, its better to keep these toys on home soil and focus on other means of obtaining first strike.

Also didn't some years back the US cease having air born missiles kept in the air at all times?
Well that just is not the case...submarines are THE preferred way for most powers to carry and launch nuclear weapons.

China, France, India, Russia, the UK and US all have nuclear armed ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). In fact submarines are now the only method the UK has to deliver such weapons and the US has been talking about whether they should decommission their ICBM silos and spend the money elsewhere.

Both the Koreas have been developing conventionally powered ballistic missile submarines, though South Korea does not have a nuclear weapons program...officially.

The US only flew 24/7 nuclear airborne alert in the 60s until the Polaris submarine launched ballistic missile entered service.
Mr. Lane
We know that SSBNs are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, they’re in shielded compartments where sailors spend nearly no time, if any at all. My point was that ‘torpedo tube’ based nuclear weapons would not be a thing in a respectable navy today.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Nuclear power sub's are very hard to find at sea …
Diesel-electric subs are even harder to find, if they have a skilled crew who manage their battery usage well to avoid getting detected when snorkelling.

RAN Collins Class have killed US aircraft carriers and LA Class nuclear subs in exercises.

Not so good for the sort of patrols that the RAN needs to conduct to keep trade lanes open and conduct electronic surveillance.
I think part of the decision not to pursue Nuclear Subs in 2016 was resistance from within the RAN, who had developed superb Submarine skills in both the Oberon Class and later the Collins Class boats. The RAN was well aware that a Diesel-Electric Sub was superior in covert operations and avoiding detection compared to a Nuclear Sub.

Having worked with the USN frequently on exercises, the RAN had found that the US Nuclear boats were noisier than the Oberon and Collins boats, and also that the US Anti-Sub crews were more used to the noise of nuclear boats and were not well attuned to finding a skilfully handled diesel boat. On one memorable joint exercise, an Australian Sub tasked with "Attacking" a US carrier group (HMAS Onslow during RIMPAC98), not only successfully approached the US ships, but successfully "Sank" several including the Carrier USS Carl Vinson, and surfaced 300m away from it Completely undetected! This is the ONLY occasion in 65 years of joint naval training exercises (with multiple nations navies) that a US capital ship has been sunk by a submarine.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/cold-war-exploits-of-australias-secret-submarines/news-story/2b5a9a088125b1873777ec8cc60cd79b

I call smeg on this. The Swedish Gotland class also had success sinking US carriers. In fact it was so successful the US Navy hired the Sweads to train against for several years. The Gotland class (which the Collins is related to) uses a Sterling Engine and is remarkably quiet.

SSKs with Air Independent Propulsion do not need to surface to recharge but they cannot run at speed like this. They are great for hiding along the coast in the shallows, but they are not going to be dashing across the ocean at 20+ knots without surfacing.
Mr. Lane
Commander Peter Ostbring was the man, very highly regarded (and decorated) by the USN.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Well that just is not the case...submarines are THE preferred way for most powers to carry and launch nuclear weapons.

China, France, India, Russia, the UK and US all have nuclear armed ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). In fact submarines are now the only method the UK has to deliver such weapons and the US has been talking about whether they should decommission their ICBM silos and spend the money elsewhere.

Both the Koreas have been developing conventionally powered ballistic missile submarines, though South Korea does not have a nuclear weapons program...officially.

The US only flew 24/7 nuclear airborne alert in the 60s until the Polaris submarine launched ballistic missile entered service.
Mr. Lane
Fair points, I was thinking more historic Russia/USA.
  Mr. Lane Chief Commissioner

I'm certainly no expert in the field of submarines, but I'd be interested to know from those more knowledgeable what would be the best choice submarine to meet Australia's strategic interests, whether nuclear or diesel-electric, without being overly influenced by an alleged direct threat from China or wishing to tie ourselves to the US strategic interests?  This is aside from the contractual commitments we had with the French.  Do we really need to adopt a forward defence strategy with long range submarines, just to appease the US, rather than focusing on our own backyard?
Transtopic
What should have happened was the Howard Government starting the program for the Collins replacement in the 2000s whilst the last Collins were still being built. In naval shipbuilding you cannot just say "job done" after building your last boat then start the process for selecting a replacement five years later.

The UK and US understand this which is why they are already designing the next generation of SSN and SSBN whilst they are still building Astutes and Virginias. They will be ready to move onto the Dreadnaught and the Columbia class builds immediately with the SSN(R) and SSN(X) design process already underway.

A Son of Collins would have been the ideal replacement to come on board around 2024-2026. Basically Collins, but larger. This would have plugged the gap between then and the time a new SSN could be procured.

First Australia's decision to go with SSNs is not about "appeasing the US." I really wish people would stop with that kind of little-Australia talk. We have made these decisions firmly in our own interest and going nuclear is a courageous move.

If our goal is simply to stop an invasion of Australia, then the argument for sticking with SSKs and going with a 12 sub build is strong, but there are still arguments in favour of SSNs. SSNs can disrupt enemy supply lines well away from the Australian mainland and invading and sustaining an invasion is ALL about supply. No one is landing in Australia and succeeding without maintaining supply lines for months or even years on end. SSNs can be out on station for months sinking enemy shipping at the moment they choose anywhere in the Pacific or Indian Oceans.

To see where Australia is most vulnerable we can look to WW2: Japans strategy was to cut Australia's supply lines and this is what any potential enemy would attempt today. We need to get fuel from the Middle East and we need to get materiel from the US. We need to export into Asia. SSKs will not allow us to defend our supply lines across oceans.

So SSNs kind of win out regardless of what your strategic needs are because of our geography. The only time I would say SSKs would have an advantage would be if we were going to war with a country with nearby basing...Indonesia or lets say another country that had been given basing rights by Indonesia or had conquered Indonesia and was using it as a staging location for an invasion. A larger number of SSKs would be advantageous in the shallows in our immediate north. That is a very specific scenario, however.

My preference would have been for a Son of Collins SSK build, even if only 3 subs, but 6 is better to deliver subs beginning around 2024, then progressing onto the new British SSN(R) after that. I think a 6 SSN 6 SSK fleet would actually be a good balance with the SSKs eventually being replaced by a Block II SSN(R) down the track.

My preference for British subs is on account of the smaller size and crewing requirements.
  Transtopic Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I'm certainly no expert in the field of submarines, but I'd be interested to know from those more knowledgeable what would be the best choice submarine to meet Australia's strategic interests, whether nuclear or diesel-electric, without being overly influenced by an alleged direct threat from China or wishing to tie ourselves to the US strategic interests?  This is aside from the contractual commitments we had with the French.  Do we really need to adopt a forward defence strategy with long range submarines, just to appease the US, rather than focusing on our own backyard?
What should have happened was the Howard Government starting the program for the Collins replacement in the 2000s whilst the last Collins were still being built. In naval shipbuilding you cannot just say "job done" after building your last boat then start the process for selecting a replacement five years later.

The UK and US understand this which is why they are already designing the next generation of SSN and SSBN whilst they are still building Astutes and Virginias. They will be ready to move onto the Dreadnaught and the Columbia class builds immediately with the SSN(R) and SSN(X) design process already underway.

A Son of Collins would have been the ideal replacement to come on board around 2024-2026. Basically Collins, but larger. This would have plugged the gap between then and the time a new SSN could be procured.

First Australia's decision to go with SSNs is not about "appeasing the US." I really wish people would stop with that kind of little-Australia talk. We have made these decisions firmly in our own interest and going nuclear is a courageous move.

If our goal is simply to stop an invasion of Australia, then the argument for sticking with SSKs and going with a 12 sub build is strong, but there are still arguments in favour of SSNs. SSNs can disrupt enemy supply lines well away from the Australian mainland and invading and sustaining an invasion is ALL about supply. No one is landing in Australia and succeeding without maintaining supply lines for months or even years on end. SSNs can be out on station for months sinking enemy shipping at the moment they choose anywhere in the Pacific or Indian Oceans.

To see where Australia is most vulnerable we can look to WW2: Japans strategy was to cut Australia's supply lines and this is what any potential enemy would attempt today. We need to get fuel from the Middle East and we need to get materiel from the US. We need to export into Asia. SSKs will not allow us to defend our supply lines across oceans.

So SSNs kind of win out regardless of what your strategic needs are because of our geography. The only time I would say SSKs would have an advantage would be if we were going to war with a country with nearby basing...Indonesia or lets say another country that had been given basing rights by Indonesia or had conquered Indonesia and was using it as a staging location for an invasion. A larger number of SSKs would be advantageous in the shallows in our immediate north. That is a very specific scenario, however.

My preference would have been for a Son of Collins SSK build, even if only 3 subs, but 6 is better to deliver subs beginning around 2024, then progressing onto the new British SSN(R) after that. I think a 6 SSN 6 SSK fleet would actually be a good balance with the SSKs eventually being replaced by a Block II SSN(R) down the track.

My preference for British subs is on account of the smaller size and crewing requirements.
Mr. Lane
Thanks for that comprehensive reply.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I'm certainly no expert in the field of submarines, but I'd be interested to know from those more knowledgeable what would be the best choice submarine to meet Australia's strategic interests, whether nuclear or diesel-electric, without being overly influenced by an alleged direct threat from China or wishing to tie ourselves to the US strategic interests?  This is aside from the contractual commitments we had with the French.  Do we really need to adopt a forward defence strategy with long range submarines, just to appease the US, rather than focusing on our own backyard?
What should have happened was the Howard Government starting the program for the Collins replacement in the 2000s whilst the last Collins were still being built. In naval shipbuilding you cannot just say "job done" after building your last boat then start the process for selecting a replacement five years later.

The UK and US understand this which is why they are already designing the next generation of SSN and SSBN whilst they are still building Astutes and Virginias. They will be ready to move onto the Dreadnaught and the Columbia class builds immediately with the SSN(R) and SSN(X) design process already underway.

A Son of Collins would have been the ideal replacement to come on board around 2024-2026. Basically Collins, but larger. This would have plugged the gap between then and the time a new SSN could be procured.

First Australia's decision to go with SSNs is not about "appeasing the US." I really wish people would stop with that kind of little-Australia talk. We have made these decisions firmly in our own interest and going nuclear is a courageous move.

If our goal is simply to stop an invasion of Australia, then the argument for sticking with SSKs and going with a 12 sub build is strong, but there are still arguments in favour of SSNs. SSNs can disrupt enemy supply lines well away from the Australian mainland and invading and sustaining an invasion is ALL about supply. No one is landing in Australia and succeeding without maintaining supply lines for months or even years on end. SSNs can be out on station for months sinking enemy shipping at the moment they choose anywhere in the Pacific or Indian Oceans.

To see where Australia is most vulnerable we can look to WW2: Japans strategy was to cut Australia's supply lines and this is what any potential enemy would attempt today. We need to get fuel from the Middle East and we need to get materiel from the US. We need to export into Asia. SSKs will not allow us to defend our supply lines across oceans.

So SSNs kind of win out regardless of what your strategic needs are because of our geography. The only time I would say SSKs would have an advantage would be if we were going to war with a country with nearby basing...Indonesia or lets say another country that had been given basing rights by Indonesia or had conquered Indonesia and was using it as a staging location for an invasion. A larger number of SSKs would be advantageous in the shallows in our immediate north. That is a very specific scenario, however.

My preference would have been for a Son of Collins SSK build, even if only 3 subs, but 6 is better to deliver subs beginning around 2024, then progressing onto the new British SSN(R) after that. I think a 6 SSN 6 SSK fleet would actually be a good balance with the SSKs eventually being replaced by a Block II SSN(R) down the track.

My preference for British subs is on account of the smaller size and crewing requirements.
Mr. Lane
Yes and no on the timing. The American's are basically in a continuous production run of their submarines, for example there are 19 x Virgina's, we have 6 x Collin's. As it was Planning for their replacement started in Dec 2007.

Had Tony Abbott not been dumped, we would have more than likely now have a contract with the modified version of the Soryu, however rightly that contract never proceeded. Had the French played ball with the Baracuda, we wouldn't be here now and the likely outcome being that the last 6 boats in the order converted to nuclear propulsion.

So have the delays been to our favor?
  Mr. Lane Chief Commissioner

I'm certainly no expert in the field of submarines, but I'd be interested to know from those more knowledgeable what would be the best choice submarine to meet Australia's strategic interests, whether nuclear or diesel-electric, without being overly influenced by an alleged direct threat from China or wishing to tie ourselves to the US strategic interests?  This is aside from the contractual commitments we had with the French.  Do we really need to adopt a forward defence strategy with long range submarines, just to appease the US, rather than focusing on our own backyard?
What should have happened was the Howard Government starting the program for the Collins replacement in the 2000s whilst the last Collins were still being built. In naval shipbuilding you cannot just say "job done" after building your last boat then start the process for selecting a replacement five years later.

A Son of Collins would have been the ideal replacement to come on board around 2024-2026. Basically Collins, but larger. This would have plugged the gap between then and the time a new SSN could be procured.
Yes and no on the timing. The American's are basically in a continuous production run of their submarines, for example there are 19 x Virgina's, we have 6 x Collin's. As it was Planning for their replacement started in Dec 2007.

Had Tony Abbott not been dumped, we would have more than likely now have a contract with the modified version of the Soryu, however rightly that contract never proceeded. Had the French played ball with the Baracuda, we wouldn't be here now and the likely outcome being that the last 6 boats in the order converted to nuclear propulsion.

So have the delays been to our favor?
RTT_Rules
The delays haven't been to our favour, they are entirely detrimental. Instead of replacing Collins with 12 new submarines we will end up with 6 refurbished Collins. We need new subs in the next couple of years...not sometime after 2032, 2034...36, 38 whatever it is now.

We have achieved the worst outcome possible after 13 years since the 2009 whitepaper...except saved money by not building anything so far.

Given Collins were due to begin decommissioning around 2024-2026 and the first of the Barracudas were not to enter commission until at least 2032 and the 2009 defence whitepaper called for a doubling of the fleet size to 12...there is literally room for a whole other class of 6 subs between Collins and Barracuda.

This Son of Collins could have replaced the Collins in the 2020s and then supplemented the Barracudas (or now whatever SSN we get) into the late 2040s.

Alternatively we could have gone with Son of Collins and also given the Collins the life extension...and got to that 12 sub fleet much earlier.

The whole thing is screwed.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

So SSNs kind of win out regardless of what your strategic needs are because of our geography. The only time I would say SSKs would have an advantage would be if we were going to war with a country with nearby basing...Indonesia or lets say another country that had been given basing rights by Indonesia or had conquered Indonesia and was using it as a staging location for an invasion. A larger number of SSKs would be advantageous in the shallows in our immediate north. That is a very specific scenario, however.
Mr. Lane
Much as it pains me to say this, @MrLane is right here.  

There is a tactical reason why SSNs are superior too: they can get on station faster.  SSKs can't be fast AND stealthy.  

Even with early warning, we can't get a diesel boat to a likely invasion landing site fast enough without it being detected/detectable.  Our coast line is just too big.  It means any potential invader will *know* if it's safe to land their forces.  It means even if we could disrupt a landing - they will have a window large enough to land an overwhelming force even without retain naval superiority.

Subs really are a weapon of the weak.  If we could be assured of air superiority across the sea air gap, we wouldn't need them.  But we know that's unlikely to be true even in the very near future.  The strategic purpose of the subs is to create a credible threat to the success of any would-be invasion, even after our adversary has achieved local naval or air superiority.
  Mr. Lane Chief Commissioner

So SSNs kind of win out regardless of what your strategic needs are because of our geography. The only time I would say SSKs would have an advantage would be if we were going to war with a country with nearby basing...Indonesia or lets say another country that had been given basing rights by Indonesia or had conquered Indonesia and was using it as a staging location for an invasion. A larger number of SSKs would be advantageous in the shallows in our immediate north. That is a very specific scenario, however.
Subs really are a weapon of the weak.  If we could be assured of air superiority across the sea air gap, we wouldn't need them.  But we know that's unlikely to be true even in the very near future.  The strategic purpose of the subs is to create a credible threat to the success of any would-be invasion, even after our adversary has achieved local naval or air superiority.
djf01
The RAAF is the most powerful air force in SE Asia by a fair margin. The only way it would not have air superiority across the air-sea gap is once again if a country like China got basing rights in Indonesia.

The RAAF is also pretty well equipped for the anti shipping role and with the acquisition of new missiles like LRASM and JSM will only get better in that regard.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Subs really are a weapon of the weak.  If we could be assured of air superiority across the sea air gap, we wouldn't need them.  But we know that's unlikely to be true even in the very near future.  The strategic purpose of the subs is to create a credible threat to the success of any would-be invasion, even after our adversary has achieved local naval or air superiority.
The RAAF is the most powerful air force in SE Asia by a fair margin. The only way it would not have air superiority across the air-sea gap is once again if a country like China got basing rights in Indonesia.

The RAAF is also pretty well equipped for the anti shipping role and with the acquisition of new missiles like LRASM and JSM will only get better in that regard.
Mr. Lane

Singapore Air Force?

Besides, since the Japanese commissioned the INJ Hosho, despite it's small air group, they could probably match the RAAF, at least locally over a naval task force/amphibious assault fleet.  

When they get the INJ Akagi in the water, the Japanese will have air superiority in any theater where they achieve naval superiority - which will be anywhere they chose, once they take care of the Americans at Pearl.

Of course, the RAAF's local air superiority is nothing a few Japanese hyper-sonic missiles couldn't take care of in the opening gambits.  Fortunately, we all know the Japanese would never be so dastardly as to launch such a first strike.

This is why our sub-force is so important, and so much more important than it was 10 years ago.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I'm certainly no expert in the field of submarines, but I'd be interested to know from those more knowledgeable what would be the best choice submarine to meet Australia's strategic interests, whether nuclear or diesel-electric, without being overly influenced by an alleged direct threat from China or wishing to tie ourselves to the US strategic interests?  This is aside from the contractual commitments we had with the French.  Do we really need to adopt a forward defence strategy with long range submarines, just to appease the US, rather than focusing on our own backyard?
What should have happened was the Howard Government starting the program for the Collins replacement in the 2000s whilst the last Collins were still being built. In naval shipbuilding you cannot just say "job done" after building your last boat then start the process for selecting a replacement five years later.

A Son of Collins would have been the ideal replacement to come on board around 2024-2026. Basically Collins, but larger. This would have plugged the gap between then and the time a new SSN could be procured.
Yes and no on the timing. The American's are basically in a continuous production run of their submarines, for example there are 19 x Virgina's, we have 6 x Collin's. As it was Planning for their replacement started in Dec 2007.

Had Tony Abbott not been dumped, we would have more than likely now have a contract with the modified version of the Soryu, however rightly that contract never proceeded. Had the French played ball with the Baracuda, we wouldn't be here now and the likely outcome being that the last 6 boats in the order converted to nuclear propulsion.

So have the delays been to our favor?
The delays haven't been to our favour, they are entirely detrimental. Instead of replacing Collins with 12 new submarines we will end up with 6 refurbished Collins. We need new subs in the next couple of years...not sometime after 2032, 2034...36, 38 whatever it is now.

We have achieved the worst outcome possible after 13 years since the 2009 whitepaper...except saved money by not building anything so far.

Given Collins were due to begin decommissioning around 2024-2026 and the first of the Barracudas were not to enter commission until at least 2032 and the 2009 defence whitepaper called for a doubling of the fleet size to 12...there is literally room for a whole other class of 6 subs between Collins and Barracuda.

This Son of Collins could have replaced the Collins in the 2020s and then supplemented the Barracudas (or now whatever SSN we get) into the late 2040s.

Alternatively we could have gone with Son of Collins and also given the Collins the life extension...and got to that 12 sub fleet much earlier.

The whole thing is screwed.
Mr. Lane
Agree things havn't gone well and left gaps.

But consider the senarios'
- Had Abbott's proposal been approved, we'd have 12 x Japanese diesel subs in progress now
We are now saying diesel subs are no suited to our needs

- The Japanese Soryu class is half the weight requested by the Navy white paper and the Japanese offered a larger variant
Double the weight is hardly a simple "Scale up" and likely just as complex as converting the French nuc to diesel

- Additionally had a number of other defiiciences indentified by the Navy including the Japanese military suppliers not used to working with foreigners.
So would this have been another disastor project. It would appear the only way to be semi successful would be building off-shore. So where is the domestic expertise in maintaing and future upgrades?

Yes we would have got the subs on time, but wrong propulsion, questionable in performance and no onshore skills or if built on shore no doubt a long series of issues i getting there.


In 2012, the review gave the Collins another maintainence cycle, yes I know it was probably not a review rather than an instruction.

Potentially yes we should have proceeded with the orginal plan of a 7th and 8th or even more Collin's or as you call it Son of Collin when it was obvious the delays were coming.


However the outcome is not all screwed up.
- We don't have diesels long-term
- We are not dealing the French or Japanese
- The strategic gap is likely to be resolved by US operating Viginia class out of Australia, especially Perth.
"the deal could also involve American nuclear-powered Virginia-class submarines operating out of HMAS Stirling in Perth"

Along with a number of other US bases on Australian soil as other activities.

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