Replacement of Australia's Collins Class Submarines

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Like, going back to the French, asking for a nuclear Attack... we would call it, a Barracuda... oh sorry, forget that.
 

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Bit of a ship of Theseus thing going on here. They want to do a life extension of the Collins class that would substantially change the design (effectively make it an interim type), but they don't want a completely new, off-the-shelf interim type because that would be too hard to support. Huh?
 

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Analysis assumes that subs delivered in the 2030 time frame would a) be Virginia class; and b) come straight out of US production lines. Forgets that the plan is to 'build in Australia'.

Some sources claiming that the AUKUS nuclear sub plan may cost as much as A$171B.
 

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Disinformation would seem to be rife and driven by personal animus. It also seems that the technical challenge is less important than being able to say anything regardless of relevance. Time to get them back on the military and technical requirements of the country.
 

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Disinformation would seem to be rife and driven by personal animus. It also seems that the technical challenge is less important than being able to say anything regardless of relevance. Time to get them back on the military and technical requirements of the country.

Australia is a "political nation". A defence procurement decision of this size is bound to raise the ire of many people. Australia has a past history of having been used as a nuclear test site by foreign powers. We have ended up a nuclear dumping ground for radioactive waste as a consequence and as a result we have a long history of anti-nuclear sentiment in our society. A decision of this magnitude is bound to raise questions, not only amongst the politicos but the general population. Better for us to work them all out ourselves than have some "foreigners" tell us their opinions and expect us to accept them.
 

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Analysis assumes that subs delivered in the 2030 time frame would a) be Virginia class; and b) come straight out of US production lines.
It’s even worse than that. Construction has already started on the Virginia subs due for 2030 delivery. So it’s too late to add more subs to the production line (assuming there’s spare capacity to increase the production rate, which is a big if).

Only way to get a sub by 2030 is to take a sub from the USN… either a brand new Block V with the Virginia Payload Module (never going to happen) or an older used Virginia class.

And pigs fly.
 

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Australia is a "political nation".

Different from any other nation on the planet how exactly??
Australia has a past history of having been used as a nuclear test site by foreign powers. We have ended up a nuclear dumping ground for radioactive waste as a consequence and as a result we have a long history of anti-nuclear sentiment in our society.
Let's not confuse the matter re Nuclear powered subs with historical nuclear testing.
 

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Australia is a "political nation".

Different from any other nation on the planet how exactly??
Australians engage with politics a great deal more than other societies simply because they are required to by law because of compulsory voting. The media likes to engage in a game of politics because they know it increases their readership. Ask an Australian his opinion of politicians and he'll give it to you quite happily and at volume.

Australia has a past history of having been used as a nuclear test site by foreign powers. We have ended up a nuclear dumping ground for radioactive waste as a consequence and as a result we have a long history of anti-nuclear sentiment in our society.
Let's not confuse the matter re Nuclear powered subs with historical nuclear testing.
We cannot ignore it. It is a major factor. Attempts to dissociate the two are fraught with difficulty. No Australian city wants to wake to a nuclear disaster on its harbour front one morning because it ignored the issue. As much as you believe the two can be disassociated most Australians would disagree.
 

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Australians engage with politics a great deal more than other societies simply because they are required to by law because of compulsory voting. The media likes to engage in a game of politics because they know it increases their readership. Ask an Australian his opinion of politicians and he'll give it to you quite happily and at volume.
I think you will find it is not much different in many places around the world. I know I have certainly discussed politics with many folks in many countries over the years. And speaking of directly on the SSN issue, it was not even a talking point during the most recent Australian election.
We cannot ignore it. It is a major factor. Attempts to dissociate the two are fraught with difficulty. No Australian city wants to wake to a nuclear disaster on its harbour front one morning because it ignored the issue. As much as you believe the two can be disassociated most Australians would disagree.
It is not a major factor except for those who try to conflate the issues to confuse people or are confused themselves. Also, these are not simple things operated by simple people. There are/will be care processes/systems etc put in place t ensure safe operation. By way of example, exactly how many so-called nuclear disasters have happened with nuclear powered vessels (be they submarines or otherwise) world wide since the dawn of the nuclear era? Apart from Soviet ones (and I hardly think that is a fair comparison) the last I am aware of would be the 1973 incident on the USS Guardfish (SSN-612) but even that was relatively minor. So we are talking about extremely small numbers - on fact, comparatively speaking one could argue that conventionally powered vessels are more dangerous.
 

kaiserd

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Australians engage with politics a great deal more than other societies simply because they are required to by law because of compulsory voting. The media likes to engage in a game of politics because they know it increases their readership. Ask an Australian his opinion of politicians and he'll give it to you quite happily and at volume.
I think you will find it is not much different in many places around the world. I know I have certainly discussed politics with many folks in many countries over the years. And speaking of directly on the SSN issue, it was not even a talking point during the most recent Australian election.
We cannot ignore it. It is a major factor. Attempts to dissociate the two are fraught with difficulty. No Australian city wants to wake to a nuclear disaster on its harbour front one morning because it ignored the issue. As much as you believe the two can be disassociated most Australians would disagree.
It is not a major factor except for those who try to conflate the issues to confuse people or are confused themselves. Also, these are not simple things operated by simple people. There are/will be care processes/systems etc put in place t ensure safe operation. By way of example, exactly how many so-called nuclear disasters have happened with nuclear powered vessels (be they submarines or otherwise) world wide since the dawn of the nuclear era? Apart from Soviet ones (and I hardly think that is a fair comparison) the last I am aware of would be the 1973 incident on the USS Guardfish (SSN-612) but even that was relatively minor. So we are talking about extremely small numbers - on fact, comparatively speaking one could argue that conventionally powered vessels are more dangerous.
With respect the other aspect of Australia having nuclear submarines is the likely targeting of related bases and infrastructure by Chinese strikes in the eventuality of a conflict involving China and Australia.

So it is probably not valid to try to limit discussions to comparisons with peace time nuclear sub accidents. And the other valid related concern would be if Chinese strikes on such facilities would involve use of nuclear weapons.

That is not to say I would necessarily agree with all that Rickshaw may or may not argue or that there aren’t perfectly reasonable counter arguments around the potential deterrence value of Australian nuclear powered subs or the arguable likelihood that non-nuclear sub bases and infrastructure would be subject to the same Chinese strikes in the context of such a conflict.

However the effort to try to exclude such valid issues (or even any arguably misplaced concerns that happen to be broadly shared by significant proportions of Australians) isn’t helpful to building the robust long term cross-party political and societal consensus that would be required to make Australian nuclear submarines a reality and to then sustain them. And moderators on this site should try to similarly try to take a similar approach.
 

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With respect the other aspect of Australia having nuclear submarines is the likely targeting of related bases and infrastructure by Chinese strikes in the eventuality of a conflict involving China and Australia.
This of course assumes such facilities as bases are not already targets...
So it is probably not valid to try to limit discussions to comparisons with peace time nuclear sub accidents.
The response was directed at the comment re "No Australian city wants to wake to a nuclear disaster on its harbour front one morning" hence the focus on accidents.
And the other valid related concern would be if Chinese strikes on such facilities would involve use of nuclear weapons.
Again, one assumes this is not already the case regardless of the power plant utilised in submarines.
isn’t helpful to building the robust long term cross-party political and societal consensus that would be required to make Australian nuclear submarines a reality and to then sustain them.
As has already been pointed out, for the most part both major political parties in Australia are essentially aligned on the idea of acquiring SSNs. Sure the current Leader of the Opposition (former Defence Minister) is making noise now but that's only because he is playing politics and trying to deflect criticism of his own actions or lack thereof. The topic of the SSNs is essentially a non-issue for most Australians despite the attempts of some minorities to make it a bigger issue - and yes I have been in direct conversation with some of these. It is laughable of how out of touch with reality they were.
 

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I find it a 'bit rich' the opposition claiming they were "aiming for a significantly lower figure" before they lost office when they were the ones who created this mess in the first place and the current Govt is trying to clean up the mess as expeditiously as possible.
 
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Typical low-quality article from the Aussie media. Click bait title, surfing on the usual anti-French biases, and basically just repeating political talking points from opposition politicians with an axe to grind.
 

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I’d suggest moderators on this topic try to take a less “partisan” approach to this topic.

Personally I’m not particularly pro- or con- (I can see valid arguments for Australia adopting nuclear powered attack subs, the primary questions in my view are more around how that can be delivered in what timescale and the probable issues when the former-Australian governments plans in this regard likely prove to be unrealistic and over optimistic).

But there are potentially valid con- arguments being made by others that aren’t being made in bad faith and all users (especially the moderators) should respect other contributors right to make them if/ when they make them. And this is particularly importance in the context of Australia having to move beyond announcements and electoral rhetoric to actually spend the money and make the difficult decisions in the likely long complicated and extremely challenging task of actually fielding a nuclear sub fleet.l (with con- issues, in numbers if perhaps not weight, likely to outgrow the pro- arguments).
 

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I am making my comments as an interested party to this topic. My being a moderator does not preclude me from making such comments. If there is ever a challenge to my bias I am more than happy to have the rest of the moderation team step in - in fact on a couple of occasions already (other topics/issues) I have already deferred to the rest of the team so as to remove any question of bias.

As to potentially valid con-arguments, I am not stifling or preventing those being put forward. I will simply rebut them when/if I feel I can/should, just as I have attempted to do here.
 

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Typical low-quality article from the Aussie media. Click bait title, surfing on the usual anti-French biases, and basically just repeating political talking points from opposition politicians with an axe to grind.
I wouldn't say that - when it comes to good reporting in Australia, the ABC pretty much sets the benchmark IMHO.
 

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I wouldn't say that - when it comes to good reporting in Australia, the ABC pretty much sets the benchmark IMHO.
I know… the ABC is better than most. But that’s not saying much - my observation still stands IMHO that that is a very poor article.

(Sorry for the off topic)
 

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Australians engage with politics a great deal more than other societies simply because they are required to by law because of compulsory voting. The media likes to engage in a game of politics because they know it increases their readership. Ask an Australian his opinion of politicians and he'll give it to you quite happily and at volume.
I think you will find it is not much different in many places around the world. I know I have certainly discussed politics with many folks in many countries over the years. And speaking of directly on the SSN issue, it was not even a talking point during the most recent Australian election.
The thing is, politics are not the normal topic of conversation amongst people overseas as they are in Australia. Americans in particular prefer to discuss sport compared to politics. Politics is a dirty subject there.
We cannot ignore it. It is a major factor. Attempts to dissociate the two are fraught with difficulty. No Australian city wants to wake to a nuclear disaster on its harbour front one morning because it ignored the issue. As much as you believe the two can be disassociated most Australians would disagree.
It is not a major factor except for those who try to conflate the issues to confuse people or are confused themselves. Also, these are not simple things operated by simple people. There are/will be care processes/systems etc put in place t ensure safe operation. By way of example, exactly how many so-called nuclear disasters have happened with nuclear powered vessels (be they submarines or otherwise) world wide since the dawn of the nuclear era? Apart from Soviet ones (and I hardly think that is a fair comparison) the last I am aware of would be the 1973 incident on the USS Guardfish (SSN-612) but even that was relatively minor. So we are talking about extremely small numbers - on fact, comparatively speaking one could argue that conventionally powered vessels are more dangerous.
People who attempt to disassociate the two do so because they try and hide the possible effects from the general population. A nuclear disaster isn't so particular, radiation doesn't say, "Wait a second, lets choose who we are going to affect and leave all those who like nuclear power alone..." A nuclear powered submarine patrols far from Australia ports most of the time but it has to return to a port, to exchange crew, revictual and refit upon occasion. We have had nuclear disasters in "well run systems" in the past, in Japan, Russia, France, the US, mostly "minor" but they did occur. No Australian city wants that to occur. Do you? Australia has come near at Lucas Heights apparently. I had a friend who was an Occ.Health and Safety Officer who had some hair-raising stories which circulated amongst that community about that facility. We are just lucky they were caught in time before disaster struck. Nuclear is as nuclear does and we have more than enough disaster stories from around the world.
 

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We cannot ignore it. It is a major factor. Attempts to dissociate the two are fraught with difficulty. No Australian city wants to wake to a nuclear disaster on its harbour front one morning because it ignored the issue. As much as you believe the two can be disassociated most Australians would disagree.
It is not a major factor except for those who try to conflate the issues to confuse people or are confused themselves. Also, these are not simple things operated by simple people. There are/will be care processes/systems etc put in place t ensure safe operation. By way of example, exactly how many so-called nuclear disasters have happened with nuclear powered vessels (be they submarines or otherwise) world wide since the dawn of the nuclear era? Apart from Soviet ones (and I hardly think that is a fair comparison) the last I am aware of would be the 1973 incident on the USS Guardfish (SSN-612) but even that was relatively minor. So we are talking about extremely small numbers - on fact, comparatively speaking one could argue that conventionally powered vessels are more dangerous.
People who attempt to disassociate the two do so because they try and hide the possible effects from the general population. A nuclear disaster isn't so particular, radiation doesn't say, "Wait a second, lets choose who we are going to affect and leave all those who like nuclear power alone..." A nuclear powered submarine patrols far from Australia ports most of the time but it has to return to a port, to exchange crew, revictual and refit upon occasion. We have had nuclear disasters in "well run systems" in the past, in Japan, Russia, France, the US, mostly "minor" but they did occur. No Australian city wants that to occur. Do you? Australia has come near at Lucas Heights apparently. I had a friend who was an Occ.Health and Safety Officer who had some hair-raising stories which circulated amongst that community about that facility. We are just lucky they were caught in time before disaster struck. Nuclear is as nuclear does and we have more than enough disaster stories from around the world.
Sub reactors are at their safest level in port. Ref: https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/24/010/24010563.pdf

The Lucas Heights High-Flux Reactor had a thermal output of 10 MW, extremely low-level. I’d be surprised at any kind of serious disaster at those levels. It also was one of 6 DIDO-class test reactors, none of which have ever been involved in a serious accident.

What kind of potential disasters did your friend relay to you, and were there any technical details provided?
 

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Sub reactors are at their safest level in port. Ref: https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/24/010/24010563.pdf

The Lucas Heights High-Flux Reactor had a thermal output of 10 MW, extremely low-level. I’d be surprised at any kind of serious disaster at those levels. It also was one of 6 DIDO-class test reactors, none of which have ever been involved in a serious accident.

What kind of potential disasters did your friend relay to you, and were there any technical details provided?
Radiation leaks primarily, nothing "major" according to the authorities but if they had gotten away, there would have been a serious affect on the environment and people who live near to the facility. Sufficient to be alarming.

The problem is when "accidents" occur, they are deadly. Their severity can vary. Something pro-nuclear proponents rarely acknowledge. The detractors and the proponents tend to concentrate on the severe accidents whereas personally, I find the so-called "low level" accidents and "leaks" much more alarming because their affects are more pernicious and long lasting. The lack of acknowledgement of them and their likelihood is what is most worrying about this issue. As with terrorism, radioactivity has to escape only once, the regulators have to be lucky every time.
 

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This is not my personal view on the matter but it shows the level of concern amongts many Australians - https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7432852/floating-chernobyls-greens-blast-sub-deal/
You are kidding aren't you? You picked an article centred around the Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt's inflammatory comments from a Canberra newspaper to supposedly represent the views of "many Australians". Really?? "floating Chernobyls in the heart of our major cities" - what a load of garbage! I respect the greens and their focus on environmental issues but I also respect facts and science and comments such as this has none.

And speaking of pro-environmental people who are supportive of nuclear power, why don't we turn to James Lovelock,
Originator of Gaia theory and for many years essentially treated as a prophet by many in the environmental/greens movement: http://www.jameslovelock.org/nuclear-power-is-the-only-green-solution/
 
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GTX

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The thing is, politics are not the normal topic of conversation amongst people overseas as they are in Australia. Americans in particular prefer to discuss sport compared to politics. Politics is a dirty subject there.
Kind of curious if you have actually travelled overseas, including to the USA to make such sweeping statements. In my experience these are inaccurate.
A nuclear disaster isn't so particular, radiation doesn't say, "Wait a second, lets choose who we are going to affect and leave all those who like nuclear power alone..."
What the...???o_O
A nuclear powered submarine patrols far from Australia ports most of the time but it has to return to a port, to exchange crew, revictual and refit upon occasion. We have had nuclear disasters in "well run systems" in the past, in Japan, Russia, France, the US, mostly "minor" but they did occur.
And yet, there are still hardly any history of radiation leaks that were not contained in some 70odd yrs of SSN operations and the majority of those that had any incidents at all were Soviet ones which is certainly not the case being looked at with the Australian plans. Let's deal with facts please.
 

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This is not my personal view on the matter but it shows the level of concern amongts many Australians - https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7432852/floating-chernobyls-greens-blast-sub-deal/
To get some opposing views, I suggest you read the following:


especially the section on Safety.

And as for the history of SSNs and their reactors etc, try this:

 

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This is not my personal view on the matter but it shows the level of concern amongts many Australians - https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7432852/floating-chernobyls-greens-blast-sub-deal/
You are kidding aren't you? You picked an article centred around the Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt's inflammatory comments from a Canberra newspaper to supposedly represent the views of "many Australians". Really?? "floating Chernobyls in the heart of our major cities" - what a load of garbage! I respect the greens and their focus on environmental issues but I also respect facts and science and comments such as this has none.

And speaking of pro-environmental people who are supportive of nuclear power, why don't we turn to James Lovelock,
Originator of Gaia theory and for many years essentially treated as a prophet by many in the environmental/greens movement: http://www.jameslovelock.org/nuclear-power-is-the-only-green-solution/
I don't want to get into a personal argument, Greg. As I said, "This is not my personal view on the matter but it shows the level of concern amongts many Australians". I see nothing wrong with discussing the opposing point of view.
 

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Analysis assumes that subs delivered in the 2030 time frame would a) be Virginia class; and b) come straight out of US production lines.
It’s even worse than that. Construction has already started on the Virginia subs due for 2030 delivery. So it’s too late to add more subs to the production line (assuming there’s spare capacity to increase the production rate, which is a big if).

Only way to get a sub by 2030 is to take a sub from the USN… either a brand new Block V with the Virginia Payload Module (never going to happen) or an older used Virginia class.

And pigs fly.

I wonder if, as the subs are based on modules, some modules may be build constrained and some others not. Overall and above that, the subs may be yard constrained in that there are only a couple of yards capable of integrating the modules and this is where the limitations arise.

Hull segments for instance, I doubt that they're constrained in making hull ring segments. They're constrained in that they only have orders to make enough for two subs at the moment but that may not reflect their actual capacity to build segments. The same may apply to other modules as well and, assuming some of the modules that are constrained aren't complete show stoppers, there may be means to source them elsewhere, from the UK for instance.

Possibly, if a yard capable of integrating the modules could be constructed, and the integration skills needed to do so could be imported for a period, maybe a way could be found to start delivering subs earlier.

All blue sky stuff of course.
 

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Sub reactors are at their safest level in port. Ref: https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/24/010/24010563.pdf

The Lucas Heights High-Flux Reactor had a thermal output of 10 MW, extremely low-level. I’d be surprised at any kind of serious disaster at those levels. It also was one of 6 DIDO-class test reactors, none of which have ever been involved in a serious accident.

What kind of potential disasters did your friend relay to you, and were there any technical details provided?
Radiation leaks primarily, nothing "major" according to the authorities but if they had gotten away, there would have been a serious affect on the environment and people who live near to the facility. Sufficient to be alarming.

The problem is when "accidents" occur, they are deadly. Their severity can vary. Something pro-nuclear proponents rarely acknowledge. The detractors and the proponents tend to concentrate on the severe accidents whereas personally, I find the so-called "low level" accidents and "leaks" much more alarming because their affects are more pernicious and long lasting. The lack of acknowledgement of them and their likelihood is what is most worrying about this issue. As with terrorism, radioactivity has to escape only once, the regulators have to be lucky every time.

Your friend’s information is remarkably non-specific.

Events at the whole Lucas heights site have been limited to contained 2 Mo-99 releases (INES 2 and 3 scale - incident and serious incident) and fuel assembly displacement in the OPAL reactor (INES 2). Ref: https://www.laka.org/docu/ines/location/oceania/australia

As for low-level accidents being more pernicious and long lasting, the reason they are low level is because scientists and engineers have good reasons for classifying them as such. Using the example of the Mo-99 spills, contained in the facility, they have a half-life of 66 hours - so after about 2 weeks there’s nothing to worry about.

As for lack of acknowledgment, that’s what INES is there for.
 

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A very informative piece and right on the money imho. Thanks for posting that link.
 

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Bipartisan effort in the US House of Representatives to stand up a joint training pipeline for Aussie officers to become Nukes:
 

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“We have tried every option except the right one,” the group wrote in the brief they have sent to the government.

Time is tight and there is now only one option. We need a lead-in submarine platform that meets Australia’s circumstances, requirements and regulations.”


The fact that the previous LNP deliberately went out of its way to exclude Saab/Kockums from the Collins Replacement tender process speaks everything about how derogatively political this whole submarine saga has been detrimental to the ADF - period!!

What a complete and utter waste of time and money this whole saga has been.

Regards
Pioneer
 

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What a complete and utter waste of time and money this whole saga has been.
And doubtless will continue to be.

Former Australian Defence Minister Dutton was pressed for details on Australian TV this morning for the source of his claim that the US may be able to deliver two Virginia class boats to Australia by 2030. In response he said that he'd based his comments on discussions he had with Electric Boat while in Connecticut and that those discussions suggested, to him, that US efforts to expand their build capability along with Australia's efforts to stand up a manufacturing capability would, in his opinion, allow them to supply the extra boats.

Read into that what you will, especially since the original claim was made during an election campaign.

Dutton claims there is considerable enthusiasm in the US for supplying Australia with this capability as soon as possible.
 

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Dutton claims there is considerable enthusiasm in the US for supplying Australia with this capability as soon as possible.
I can believe that. Australian SSNs would constitute a major boost in allied naval power in the region at very little cost to the US itself.
 

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Dutton claims there is considerable enthusiasm in the US for supplying Australia with this capability as soon as possible.
I can believe that. Australian SSNs would constitute a major boost in allied naval power in the region at very little cost to the US itself.
That and I’m sure EB would love to squeeze more profits out of an existing line. I’m finding it a little hard to believe they could expand production that much but on the other hand they have eight years to try and probably won’t cry if their deliveries are late so long as they get a contract.
 

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