Recently, US President Biden, British Prime Minister Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Albanese met at the San Diego Naval Base in California, USA. After the meeting, the three parties released a joint statement revealing the details of the “Ocus” alliance nuclear submarine plan, triggering focus on.
According to foreign media reports, the nuclear submarine plan announced this time will be carried out in three stages and is expected to be completed in 2055 at a cost of about 245 billion U.S. dollars.
In the first stage, officers and soldiers of the Australian Navy submarine force went to the US and British naval nuclear submarine bases for training; Australian shipbuilding companies started to build new dock bases for the construction, repair and maintenance of nuclear submarines. In the second stage, Australia will purchase 3 to 5 Virginia-class attack nuclear submarines from the United States. In the third stage, the three countries will use the US Virginia-class attack nuclear submarine technology as the basis, and the UK will be responsible for designing and developing a new nuclear submarine called SSN-AUKUS, which will be built in the UK and Australia. The first submarine is planned to be delivered to Australia around 2040. navy.
Although the governments of the United States, Britain and Australia are full of hope for cooperation, foreign media analysis said that the plan is full of uncertainties.
First, U.S. submarine manufacturing capabilities affect deliveries. At present, the two major nuclear submarine manufacturing plants in the United States-General Dynamics Electric Boat Company and Newport News Shipyard have been overloaded. Coupled with the imminent development of a new generation of Columbia-class strategic nuclear submarines, the production progress of Virginia-class attack nuclear submarines will inevitably be affected. Some analysts believe that in the future, Australia will have to purchase second-hand Virginia-class attack nuclear submarines from the United States or receive British Astute-class attack nuclear submarines.
Second, there is a risk of overruns in Australia’s defense budget. Last year, Australia spent 3.5 billion U.S. dollars to purchase more than 120 tanks and other armored vehicles from the United States, and finalized a purchase contract for new infantry combat vehicles worth 27 billion U.S. dollars, plus the 72 F-35 fighter jets and 9 26 In the future, the purchase, maintenance and updating of supporting facilities of these equipment will become the focus of Australia’s defense expenditure. Under such circumstances, whether the huge amount of funds required for the nuclear submarine project can be guaranteed is a thorny issue.
Finally, no agreement was reached on the issue of core technology sharing. According to the announced plan, the United States is responsible for the advanced technology of the new nuclear submarine hull, the nuclear reactor technology is led by the United Kingdom, and Australia is mainly responsible for the construction of submarine production lines and maintenance bases. Many media outlets in Australia are worried that Australia cannot obtain key technologies for nuclear submarines to enhance the strength of its shipbuilding industry, and can only become an “assembler” of submarines for the US and British navies.
Under the framework of the “Ocus” alliance, the United States, Britain and Australia have continuously strengthened military cooperation and enhanced their military influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The nuclear submarine cooperation plan is a concentrated expression of the United States’ wooing its allies to disrupt the Asia-Pacific and strengthening its frontier military presence. Once Australia is equipped with nuclear submarines, it will break the nuclear-free situation in the South Pacific, intensify the arms race among all parties, and seriously endanger the regional security situation.