With the leaders of the United States, Britain and Australia officially announcing the implementation roadmap of the “Ocus” agreement, Australia, with the support of the United States and Britain, owns and builds its own attack The nuclear submarine plan entered the formal implementation stage. Last Thursday, the US State Department approved the sale of 220 newest models of Tomahawk cruise missiles to Australia. The United States is desperately arming the “deputy sheriff” of Australia. What resources does the United States take a fancy to?
Selling “Tomahawk” to equip nuclear submarines
Shortly after the United States, Britain and Australia announced the detailed nuclear submarine plan of the “Ocus” agreement, the US “Defense News” and the website of the Naval Association and other media reported on the 17th that Australia would purchase 200 “Tomahawk” Block V and 20 A “Tomahawk” Block IV. The missiles, manufactured by Raytheon, will be equipped on the Royal Australian Navy’s Hobart-class destroyers.
According to the report, the contract also includes support for all three parts of the Australian Tomahawk Weapon System (TWS), including the integrated rounds (AUR), Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TTWCS) and the Theater Mission Planning Center. . In addition, unscheduled missile maintenance, spare parts, training and logistical support are also included.
Chinese military expert Zhang Xuefeng told the “Global Times” reporter that less than half of the actual purchase of missiles was included in the cost. In recent years, the U.S. military has purchased “Tomahawk” cruise missiles, usually at around US$1.5 million each, and in most cases it will be lower than this figure. “Tomahawk” Block V and Block IV are relatively new models, with a range of more than 1,600 kilometers, the ability to update targets in flight, and have a variety of warheads.
Developed by Lockheed Martin and achieving initial operational capability in 2004, TTWCS integrates with the host platform’s navigation, communications, situational awareness and launch systems to calculate the missile’s target course. TTWCS also provides the ability to plan missions from the launch platform and maintain communication with multiple Tomahawk missiles to rapidly retarget and change direction while in flight.
According to the plan, these “Tomahawk” cruise missiles must first be equipped with the Australian “Hobart” class destroyer. At present, the Australian Navy has three warships of this class. The warship has a displacement of 7,000 tons and is equipped with a 48-unit Mk-41 vertical launch system. It is said that all the vertical launch systems of these three ships are equipped with “Tomahawk” cruise missiles, and the quantity purchased this time cannot be installed. In the future, Australia will use “Virginia” class attack nuclear submarines to carry “Tomahawk” missiles, and the number will not be too many. The “Virginia” class nuclear submarine carries the most missiles is the “Tomahawk” Block V. The bow vertical launch system has 12 silos, and the hull vertical launch system has 28 units. Generally speaking, the ammunition load is not much.
In this Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russia used thousands of cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, but the effect did not meet expectations. If Australia wants to use 220 cruise missiles to actively provoke major powers, it is equivalent to stabbing a hornet’s nest. However, experts believe that we should pay close attention to the dynamics of the United States and Britain arming Australia through various means. This is a very dangerous signal.
Gain outposts for scouting and surveillance
The US military deployment in Australia will also play multiple roles. One is to act as an outpost for US reconnaissance and early warning. The Pine Gorge joint reconnaissance base deployed by the United States in Australia is undergoing major upgrades. It is reported that in the past 7 years, the number of antenna positions in the base has increased by more than 1/3. These powerful antennas can be used to eavesdrop on foreign satellites and detect missile launches.
The second is to assist the United States in carrying out joint space surveillance activities. Australia is located in the southern hemisphere, and the environmental conditions for space surveillance are excellent. The United States intends to deploy ground-based optical space target surveillance equipment in Australia. In 2014, the United States moved its C-band space surveillance radar from Antigua, Central America, to the Holt Naval Communications Station in Australia, and moved the optical space surveillance telescope deployed in New Mexico to Australia to monitor small space targets.
The third is to strengthen ammunition production and supply capabilities. Judging from the battlefields of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, modern warfare places high demands on the supply of ammunition. The Australian government has announced in 2021 that it will invest 1 billion Australian dollars in the construction of a guided munitions factory. In fact, it is preparing to achieve joint ammunition production with the United States, which will greatly facilitate the supply of ammunition to the US military.
Realize strategic binding with Australia
According to the roadmap determined by the “Ocus” agreement, Australia will purchase up to five “Virginia” class attack nuclear submarines from the United States and gradually have the ability to independently build “Ocus” class nuclear submarines. It seems that Australia will benefit the most, but In fact, the biggest beneficiary of this arrangement is the United States.
First of all, the United States has completely realized its strategic bundling of Australia. Prior to this, there were many disputes in the Australian political and strategic circles about whether to follow the United States in implementing a strategic containment of China. Some Australian experts and scholars believe that Australia should maintain its strategic autonomy. However, the launch of the “Ocus” agreement implementation roadmap means that Australia will be completely bound by the United States for at least 30 years.
Second, the United States took the opportunity to maintain the presence of attack nuclear submarine forces in Australia. According to the roadmap for the implementation of the agreement, starting this year, the US Navy’s “Virginia” class attack nuclear submarines will increase the frequency of visits to Australian ports, which is called “helping Australia train crews”. From 2027, the attack nuclear submarines of the US and British navies will be deployed in rotation at the Stirling Naval Base in Western Australia. At least four “Virginia” class nuclear submarines of the U.S. Navy and one “Smart” class nuclear submarine of the British Navy will be deployed in rotation.
The US “Defense News” commented on this, saying that although Australia is still 20 years away from building its own nuclear submarines, the US Navy can realize benefits in the short term, realizing the berthing and maintenance of the US Navy’s “Virginia” class attack submarines in Australian naval bases. nuclear submarine. U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos del Toro recently delivered a speech at the National Press Club of the United States, saying that the U.S. Navy will use the “Ocus” agreement to enhance the presence of submarine forces in the Indo-Pacific region. Toro emphasized that for the U.S. Navy, Australia will become an important node in the deployment of U.S. submarine forces. From submarine construction to maintenance and mission execution, the U.S. Navy can rely on this to comprehensively monitor underwater activities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Again, the US military-industrial complex gets huge sums of money. In order to implement the “Ocus” agreement, whether it is the purchase of “Virginia” class attack nuclear submarines from the United States, the transfer of technology from the United States and the establishment of production lines, the purchase of nuclear power systems, combat systems and related weapons and equipment for submarines, the crew and enterprise technology Australia needs to pay the United States hundreds of billions of dollars for training workers and upgrading the supporting naval base infrastructure.
Layout base copy Guam character
Since the end of the Cold War, one of the important signs of the eastward shift of the U.S. military strategic center of gravity is the heavy presence of the U.S. military in Guam. The reason why Guam is important is that US strategic bombers and attack nuclear submarines can rely on it to conduct rapid military intervention in the Western Pacific region. At the same time, Guam has pre-arranged a large amount of combat materials, fuel and ammunition, which can effectively serve as a gathering place and launch point for US naval and air forces to intervene in East Asian affairs for a long time.
As China’s missile force continues to rapidly develop, the United States has grown increasingly concerned about Guam’s role. Therefore, while continuing to strengthen Guam’s missile defense capabilities, the U.S. military has also begun to look for military nodes that can partially replace Guam’s role. A military expert who did not want to be named told the Global Times that judging from the layout of the US military in Australia, it is clear that Australia has become an important choice, and its military role for the US is increasingly similar to that of Guam.
Experts believe that the relevant bases in Australia deserve high attention. One is the Australian base that can be used by the U.S. Navy to attack nuclear submarines. In addition to the Stirling Naval Base in Western Australia, which will be used by the U.S. Navy for rotational deployment, the new base Australia built to host its own attack nuclear submarines will also be open to the U.S. Navy. Currently, the Australian government is actively selecting sites along the eastern coastline of Australia, and 17 sites, including the Port of Brisbane, Port of Newcastle, and Port of Kembla, are under evaluation. Once the U.S. attack nuclear submarines can achieve double entry and exit through ports on the eastern and western coastlines of Australia, the “degree of freedom” for their activities in East Asia will be greater.
The second is a base that helps the US Air Force’s strategic bombers to deploy in Australia. The U.S. Air Force has formulated a plan to build special facilities for B-52 strategic bombers at Tyndall Air Force Base in northern Australia, including maintenance centers and aprons, in order to deploy six B-52 strategic bombers. In addition, the Darwin Air Force Base in northern Australia already has the ability to station the US Air Force’s B-1 and B-52 strategic bombers. The base can also dock US KC-10 and KC-135 tankers.
The third is the base that has realized the rotation deployment of the US Marine Corps. According to the agreement reached by the governments of the United States and Australia, since April 2012, the US Marine Corps has begun to deploy in rotation in Darwin, a city in northern Australia. Marine Corps Base and Darwin Air Force Base. According to the results of the 2+2 talks between the US and Australian foreign ministers and defense ministers last year, US Defense Secretary Austin announced that the US Army will also be deployed in Australia, but did not disclose details.
In addition, the U.S. military is also building a large-scale pre-preparation facility for combat materials in Australia. For example, the U.S. military is building 11 giant oil storage tanks in the east of Darwin, which are expected to be completed in September this year and have the capacity to store 80 million gallons of fuel.