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Thread: Australia's big buy

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    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    Australia's big buy

    Australia to purchase 12 stealthy new subs


    http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/26/news...ion/index.html


    Australia has ordered 12 new submarines at a cost of $39 billion, becoming the latest nation to upgrade its fleet in a region where the seas are getting crowded.
    French defense contractor DCNS beat competitors from Japan and Germany to the massive contract, which Australia described as the "largest and most complex" in its history.

    Australia said the new 4,700-tonne Shortfin Barracudas will offer superior sensor performance and stealth characteristics, while maintaining the range and endurance of previous models.


    The new boats will be entering service amid a major submarine race in Asia. Already, 12 regional powers have submarines at sea, according to IHS Jane's, and at least eight want to buy new or replacement subs.
    The arms race has been underpinned in part by the region's growing economic power. While defense spending in Europe is basically flat, Asian countries are increasing their military budgets by 5% each year.


    Geopolitical concerns are also driving spending. China, which builds its own submarines, is engaged in a string of messy territorial disputes with countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan. They all have submarine fleets.
    Admiral Samuel Locklear, former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said last year that the Indo-Asia Pacific Region is already "the most militarized part of the world."


    Australia's military planners know the trend will only continue. The country's 2016 defense white paper predicts that half of the world's submarines will be operating in Asia by 2035.
    "Military modernization in our region will not be directed against Australia, but it will mean the defense capability edge we have enjoyed in the wider region will significantly diminish," the paper states.

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    Senior Contributor Stitch's Avatar
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    Too bad we can't sell them some decommissioned 688's . . .
    "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stitch View Post
    Too bad we can't sell them some decommissioned 688's . . .
    Australia would have gotten more bang for their buck if they'd bought or leased Virginia's. That wasn't an option for them politically however.

    They needed something with conventional propulsion that would be built domestically to sell the deal politically. The interesting thing will be to see if the French boats can be converted from nuclear to conventional diesel/AIP without major delays and cost overruns. That diesel fuel has to go somewhere, and I'm betting large fuel tanks aren't currently part of the design.

    (I was kind of hoping they would go for the Soryu so Japan could get some export experience. That said, I can see why they didn't considering the lack of range.)
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 27 Apr 16, at 17:03.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stitch View Post
    Too bad we can't sell them some decommissioned 688's . . .
    Do they have the facilities, training in place,a credit card big enough to afford a nuclear fleet? Homeport in the US and can you dock a nuclear powered vessel in Australia?
    Last edited by Dazed; 27 Apr 16, at 22:22.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    Do they have the facilities, training in place,a credit card big enough to afford a nuclear fleet? Homeport in the US and can you dock a nuclear powered vessel in Australia?
    They'll be paying more per boat than the US pays for Virginia's. Facilities required for nuclear refueling and such wouldn't be required since it lasts the life of the ship. That indicates that nuclear is a political nonstarter rather than a technical or financial obstacle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    They'll be paying more per boat than the US pays for Virginia's. Facilities required for nuclear refueling and such wouldn't be required since it lasts the life of the ship. That indicates that nuclear is a political nonstarter rather than a technical or financial obstacle.
    Political would be the easy part. I don't think they could afford a nuke sub, the most expensive one at that even as the 12th largest economy.

    How are they going to operate the boat? Here read this manual. A US SSN crew is more than double the Collins Class Sub.

    Does Australia have any operational experience with a Newport News or General Dynamics Electric Boat ship? Got to build a special yard for that. A number of USN SSN have been refueled in their lifetime, including changing the style of core. Just from an operational and safety perspective you would have to a means of dealing with nuclear material.
    Last edited by Dazed; 28 Apr 16, at 00:19.

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Gary would've had a nice insight here.
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    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Senior Contributor Stitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    Do they have the facilities, training in place,a credit card big enough to afford a nuclear fleet? Homeport in the US and can you dock a nuclear powered vessel in Australia?
    I was pretty sure Australia wouldn't go for a nuke; I know most of the ANZAC countries are "anti-nuke", so I'd be surprised if that was even an option. However, I know the US is trying to establish a semi-permanent presence on the Australian coast somewhere (Canberra?), so maybe we could "share resources"?
    Last edited by Stitch; 28 Apr 16, at 18:54. Reason: Punctuation
    "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    Political would be the easy part. I don't think they could afford a nuke sub, the most expensive one at that even as the 12th largest economy.

    How are they going to operate the boat? Here read this manual. A US SSN crew is more than double the Collins Class Sub.

    Does Australia have any operational experience with a Newport News or General Dynamics Electric Boat ship? Got to build a special yard for that. A number of USN SSN have been refueled in their lifetime, including changing the style of core. Just from an operational and safety perspective you would have to a means of dealing with nuclear material.
    If Australia had leased or bought Virginia's, they would have gotten a very capable boat with very little risk. It's a mature design, with no development needed (like converting from nuclear to AIP), no integration issues since it is already compatible with the Mk 48 CBASS that was co-developed by the US and Australia. The nuclear core on the Virginia's last the life of the boat unlike the 688s, so no messing about with nuclear material required.

    Cost wise, Virginia's are a known quantity at $2.7 billion each while the DNCS Shortfin Barracuda will require conversion from nuclear to conventional and for compatibility with Australian weapons stocks. Projected costs for 12 boats is $50 billion or $4.2 billion each assuming the conversions go smoothly. The manning requirements for the Virginias are about double the nuclear version of the Barracuda, which seems logical considering they are double the displacement. No word on what the conventional Barracuda will require but I'd assume it is similar to the original.

    Politically the Virginia's are a non-starter because they are nuclear and they aren't made in Australia. The Australian government wanted to support the steel industry and jobs in South Australia as much as they want the actual hardware. There is a federal election in July after all.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stitch View Post
    I was pretty sure Australia wouldn't go for a nuke: I know most of the ANZAC countries are "anti-nuke", so I'd be surprised if that was even an option. However, I know the US is trying to establish a semi-permanent presence on the Australian coast somewhere (Canberra?), so maybe we could "share resources"?
    This is something that has never made much sense to me. Australia has a TON of real estate to patrol, which is a perfect fit for the strategic speed offered by nuclear powered ships. A conventional diesel/AIP sub traveling long distances at snorkel depth doing 10 knots is a whole lot different than a nuclear boat that can punch it up to 30 knots and just keep going full speed all the time.

    While I can understand the disdain for nuclear weapons, is nuclear as a power source still unacceptable to the ANZAC electorate or is it more of a policy holdover from decades ago?

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    SSN-668s were nuclear weapons delivery platforms and as such, can only be leased to Australia. Australia, politically speaking, cannot accept nuclear weapons delivery platforms.
    Chimo

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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    While I can understand the disdain for nuclear weapons, is nuclear as a power source still unacceptable to the ANZAC electorate or is it more of a policy holdover from decades ago?
    Steve,

    There is no 'ANZAC electorate'. Never has been. We are two separate nations with very different approaches to a number of issues, including defence structure & procurement. There was never a ban on nuclear armed vessels porting in Australia. It was never a big issue with the electorate as a whole.

    Nuclear power has been & remains controversial in Australia. Even the mining of uranium for export here has been controversial for several generations. Its to do with the danger & lifespan of the waste product. We are also one of the few nations on earth to actually have nuclear weapons detonated on our soil courtesy of a fawning conservative government desperate to curry favour with its perceived betters in London. People were killed. When the detail came out it caused considerable controversy.

    We only have one functioning nuclear reactor in Australia & it produces medical isotopes. There were plans to build a larger one in the 60s for other purposes, but not even a deeply conservative & anti-communist Australia was prepared to do that. There is zero chance we are going to buy, lease or build nuclear propelled vessels. its an electoral non-starter. A government could perhaps push it through, but it would chew up political capital they would rather use doing something useful. There is no constituency for such vessels & I'm not even sure they offer a significant capability advantage (not my area of expertise).

    The final element here, as mentioned, is domestic politics. This government (under the previous PM) killed off the domestic car industry - the only major manufacturing industry of its type in the country. Factories will start closing soon, and the states hardest hit are also the ones where ship building is biggest, especially Sth Australia. Additionally, the last remnants of the domestic steel industry is in strife courtesy of China dumping steel on the international market. Anything short of a majority local build would be political suicide for this government. That probably killed the Japanese bid. Of course, in the nature of such things, a fraction of the extra cost incurred here would have kept the auto industry alive for decades & employed tens of thousands more people. However, I think putting a large, highly unionized workforce on the unemployment rolls was part of the motivation anyway. Those workers won't get jobs building ships, but neither will they be joined by Sth Australian ship builders (though their equivalent in my state are already lining up for the dole).

    So, a bunch of factors at work here. Bottom line is no nuclear powered submarines while any of us are drawing breath. Diesel subs will do the job just fine.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    Steve,

    The final element here, as mentioned, is domestic politics. This government (under the previous PM) killed off the domestic car industry - the only major manufacturing industry of its type in the country. Factories will start closing soon, and the states hardest hit are also the ones where ship building is biggest, especially Sth Australia. Additionally, the last remnants of the domestic steel industry is in strife courtesy of China dumping steel on the international market. Anything short of a majority local build would be political suicide for this government. That probably killed the Japanese bid. Of course, in the nature of such things, a fraction of the extra cost incurred here would have kept the auto industry alive for decades & employed tens of thousands more people. However, I think putting a large, highly unionized workforce on the unemployment rolls was part of the motivation anyway. Those workers won't get jobs building ships, but neither will they be joined by Sth Australian ship builders (though their equivalent in my state are already lining up for the dole).

    So, a bunch of factors at work here. Bottom line is no nuclear powered submarines while any of us are drawing breath. Diesel subs will do the job just fine.
    Hi BigFella,

    I think the car manufacturers decided to shut down local manufacturing before the government had decided to pull the subsidies. The subsidies would have only kept them in the country for a few years longer.
    Last edited by Parihaka; 29 Apr 16, at 12:07.

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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hboGYT View Post
    Hi BigFella,

    I think the car manufacturers decided to shut down local manufacturing before the government had decided to pull the subsidies. The subsidies would have only kept them in the country for a few years longer.
    The government basically told then to fuck off, so they did. To be more precise, the government pushed by the National party told them to fuck off.

    At the time the dollar was still considerably higher than the historical average to which it has now returned, and higher than the low US 90c required to make the care industry viable. Welcome to the mining boom. Subsequently the dollar slumped, and is now well & truly at a level where our cars would be competitive on export markets. The industry could have been sustained for a good long time on the same dough going to prop up farmers or a fraction that going to build subs.

    Amid lectures on the inability of Australia to subsidize uncompetitive industries, the same government stumped up billions for yet another rural assistance package (on top of the permanent drought relief payments, diesel fuel rebates etc.). Of course, not many unionists on farms. Now we get an even more expensive package for a relatively tiny industry whose future as an exporter is even less likely than the auto industry. I should add that I don't have a problem with governments using their influence & coffers to sustain important industries, I do have a problem with killing a big employer & 'keystone' manufacturing industry for completely bogus reasons.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    Diesel subs will do the job just fine.
    From what i've read repeatedly is that they'll do the job.... but not 'just fine'. The problem is our location and our transit. Politics holds it back. Countries that are serious about their geopolitical space and their ability to affect it have no such concerns, whether it is a PLAN nuke lying at the bottom of the pacific or a conventional one. That's the crux of the issue.
    Ego Numquam

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