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Replacement of Australia's Collins Class Submarines

GTX

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Quote from article: "...Under plan B, the government would commission Saab Kockums, designers of the Navy’s existing submarines, to develop a preliminary design study (PDS) for an evolved version of the Collins Class submarine."
 

jeffb

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Do the Collins class have fuel cell stacks? Could they be retro fitted? Air independent engine types?
No, possibly and no. They're currently 'classic' diesel electric with lead acid batteries (400 tons worth iirc). Whether those options will be considered in the event of upgrades is still an open question I think. I'm pretty sure they're looking at replacing the diesel generators (3 per boat) so possibly a combined diesel/fuel cell approach could be taken, it'll depend on the state of the technology and how much capability it would actually add.

I'm wondering if there's any scope for extending the hull should they decide to expand capabilities through one or more 'drop in' modules? Something like a mission configurable VLS module could make them into SSGKs.
 

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Quote from article: "...Under plan B, the government would commission Saab Kockums, designers of the Navy’s existing submarines, to develop a preliminary design study (PDS) for an evolved version of the Collins Class submarine."

Thanks for that GTX, article contains a link to the full report. :)

Just browsing Covert Shores Saab/Kockums A26 page to see what directions the Swedes are going in with their new line of subs. Important to point out: The A26 displaces ~2000 tons, the current Collins displaces ~3500 tons, and the planned Future Submarine displaces ~4500 tons.
 

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Just browsing Covert Shores Saab/Kockums A26 page to see what directions the Swedes are going in with their new line of subs. Important to point out: The A26 displaces ~2000 tons, the current Collins displaces ~3500 tons, and the planned Future Submarine displaces ~4500 tons.

The proposed A26 Oceanic Extended Range variant displaces >3000 tones, admittedly still much less than ~4500.

 

jeffb

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Just browsing Covert Shores Saab/Kockums A26 page to see what directions the Swedes are going in with their new line of subs. Important to point out: The A26 displaces ~2000 tons, the current Collins displaces ~3500 tons, and the planned Future Submarine displaces ~4500 tons.

The proposed A26 Oceanic Extended Range variant displaces >3000 tones, admittedly still much less than ~4500.


The Swedes seem to making a point of designing their subs using (largely) interchangeable modules. I think it's a good approach. Certainly aids making their subs capabilities more flexible.
 

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Do the Collins class have fuel cell stacks? Could they be retro fitted? Air independent engine types?
No, possibly and no. They're currently 'classic' diesel electric with lead acid batteries (400 tons worth iirc). Whether those options will be considered in the event of upgrades is still an open question I think. I'm pretty sure they're looking at replacing the diesel generators (3 per boat) so possibly a combined diesel/fuel cell approach could be taken, it'll depend on the state of the technology and how much capability it would actually add.

I'm wondering if there's any scope for extending the hull should they decide to expand capabilities through one or more 'drop in' modules? Something like a mission configurable VLS module could make them into SSGKs.

My understanding is that no AIP system was considered effective given the long distances that the Collins class has to travel to get to a patrol station. That is, in order to maintain a significant rate of advance, they have to use all of the available diesel power for charging and any AIP arrangement would lack the energy density. In a similar vein, the Japanese are actually removing AIP in the most recent Soryu boats in favor of more batteries of greater energy density (Li hydride).
 

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"floating sceptic tank" - that's a rather evocative vision I mused, skeptically.
 

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Quote from article: "...Under plan B, the government would commission Saab Kockums, designers of the Navy’s existing submarines, to develop a preliminary design study (PDS) for an evolved version of the Collins Class submarine."
In truth, I prefer this option...but the fact the Australian government deliberately and openly excluded Saab Kockum from participating says everything to me!

Regards
Pioneer
 
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Archibald

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"floating sceptic tank" - that's a rather evocative vision I mused, skeptically.

Mind you, there are a lot of people in France called Lafosse ( = the ditch). Those people are notoriously hard to convince about anything... because they are skeptical to the very deep end.
As in "Ah, M. Lafosse... toujours septique !" (runs for cover)
 

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Have we blamed the Germans yet?
Maybe the Swedes?
I mean if SAAB Kockums had stayed independently of Thyssen Krup and had the Swedes funded the A26 back then. Surely a stretched version to meet RAN requirements ought to have been forthcoming?
 

stealthflanker

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Have we blamed the Germans yet?
Maybe the Swedes?
I mean if SAAB Kockums had stayed independently of Thyssen Krup and had the Swedes funded the A26 back then. Surely a stretched version to meet RAN requirements ought to have been forthcoming?

A-26 is happening right ? Except the Swedes doesnt use the extended range Oceanic version. and nobody seems to want 3000-4000 Ton class Conventional Subs except the Aussies.

South Korea is building their own KSS-3. India seems to happy with 1500-2000 Ton class. Indonesian navy requirements are something in between U-209 and U-214. Singapore already have U-218 and this one is nowhere near what Australia wants.
 

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Have we blamed the Germans yet?
Maybe the Swedes?
I mean if SAAB Kockums had stayed independently of Thyssen Krup and had the Swedes funded the A26 back then. Surely a stretched version to meet RAN requirements ought to have been forthcoming?

A-26 is happening right ? Except the Swedes doesnt use the extended range Oceanic version. and nobody seems to want 3000-4000 Ton class Conventional Subs except the Aussies.

South Korea is building their own KSS-3. India seems to happy with 1500-2000 Ton class. Indonesian navy requirements are something in between U-209 and U-214. Singapore already have U-218 and this one is nowhere near what Australia wants.
The Dutch are looking at the Oceanic version of the A-26, but no, not the Extended Range one.
 

uk 75

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I wonder if the time has come for Australia to have an SSN force.
I know that none of the available designs are particularly cost effective or reliable but given the growing size of various neighbourhood navies and the need for long range, speed and a decisive response.
Perhaps Bojo could give them a couple of Astutes..
 

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Politically unacceptable, economically infeasible, and practically no one can spare the yard time to make anything for them except for maybe the Chinese, which would rather kill the point.
 

uk 75

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Been looking at this thread again.
Given all the problems with the alternatives and the impact it would have on countering China in the region, the UK could transfer an Astute to Australia permanently, with a training crew. A second boat could then be loaned later. Meanwhile the necessary boats could either be built in UK or in Australia.
The only effective weapon to deal with threats at sea with range, endurance and speed is an SSN.
Unlike the US the UK has problems crewing its own SSNs so a deal could be worked out.
 

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Been looking at this thread again.
Given all the problems with the alternatives and the impact it would have on countering China in the region, the UK could transfer an Astute to Australia permanently, with a training crew. A second boat could then be loaned later. Meanwhile the necessary boats could either be built in UK or in Australia.
The only effective weapon to deal with threats at sea with range, endurance and speed is an SSN.
Unlike the US the UK has problems crewing its own SSNs so a deal could be worked out.
One problem with that would be that the Astutes are rather flawed boats, good sonar and torpedoes but everything else is a mess. Another is that the RN doesn't have enough of them available to meet commitments as it is, in part due to the manning problems you've mentioned, but also thanks to operational & maintenance problems caused by some rather dubious design decisions (the Astute program was very poorly handled indeed, even by the standards of recent times), not to mention things like successive governments continuously overcommiting forces and resources while at the same time very unwisely diverting and squandering increasingly threadbare defence funds.
 

uk 75

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I admit to being a bit tongue in cheek about this idea. Your points are of course correct.
But despite them, neither France nor US is as well placed as the RN to help the RAN create a nuclear submarine force to counter the rise of China in the region.
I accept this might be a step too far for the Australian taxpayer. However, even the flawed Astute would be the most powerful naval unit Australia could acquire.
 

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Submarines are a political football in Australia that very rarely actually pays attention to the requirements driving the advice given to government by the RAN.

The push for Japanese built submarines was primarily the baby of DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and the then Secretary of the Department of Defence, who was the former head of DFAT, and driven by the belief that the submarine buy would lead to a formal alliance with Japan against a rising Chinese threat. This was sold to the political classes in a number of ways over and above the alliance angle, this included proposing to the powerful WA Mafia (senior government ministers from the state of Western Australia) that submarine building and maintenance be shut down in South Australia and all maintenance for the new Japanese submarine fleet be moved to Western Australia. In fact all local major naval vessel construction would end with only fast light frigates and patrol boats being built in WA, major vessel maintenance would be conducted in WA and Sydney, minor warfare vessel maintenance would be conducted in Queensland.

The thing DFAT, the defence secretary and the government forgot to factor in was other states were reliant on submarine work, especially as they were the main victims of government policy that killed local automotive manufacturing, and believe it or not, the fact that the Japanese design did not meet RAN requirements and was in significant ways, inferior to the inservice Collins Class.

After significant internal pressure the government announced a competitive evaluation process to select a new submarine design, a process that the then Prime Minister advised was a longstanding defence procurement system that had been used consistently over many years. Shortly after this a long term acquaintance and former colleague of mine was seconded to Canberra to write this new, never used process to evaluate the various designs on offer.

Japanese and German options were found not to meet the stated requirements, legacy design features in each (both were the result of continuous evolution over decades) made them less advanced in many ways than the existing Collins Class (which was a clean sheet design from the late 80s early 90s), and more importantly, than the French offering. The Barracuda was pretty much a clean sheet design, providing a hull of the required size, as well as all the associated auxiliary systems with the signature issues already sorted, it was the best of the short listed options. It could be argued that an evolved Collins developed with Swedish input, or a design by Deep Blue Tech would have been better, but the government vetoed a Collins based option and shut down deep blue tech as a prelude to pushing the Japanese option, meaning neither was assessed un the Competitive Evaluation Process (read politics).

Nuclear, not going to happen, there simply is not the political will or social support. Besides that, both sides of politics have made a habit of cutting defence spending, naval sustainment as a regular area that has been cut so deeply that some platforms have literally been left dangerously unseaworthy. I have seen two thirds of the submarine fleet out of the water in Adelaide for years at a time because there is not the crew or funding to keep them in service, one in a full cycle docking (FCD), one in a mid cycle docking, one in pre FCD Lay Up, and one in pre FCD (i.e. being stripped of parts for in service boats). Doing this is dumb and is not currently the case, but believe me, it will happen again if the purse strings are tight and would be suicide with a reactor.
 
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zen

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The timing for Astute was back before 2010, when additional boats could have been built. In fact were expected to be ordered.
 

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It would be better served by evolving the COLLINS class, rather than buying a new sub

Most Australian experts agree that that ship sailed a long time ago. It would be like building a brand new electric self-driving luxury SUV on the platform of an early 1990s Saab 900.
 

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It would be better served by evolving the COLLINS class, rather than buying a new sub

Most Australian experts agree that that ship sailed a long time ago. It would be like building a brand new electric self-driving luxury SUV on the platform of an early 1990s Saab 900.
It would still be the second quietest submarine in existence and the longest ranged conventional submarine.
 

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It would be better served by evolving the COLLINS class, rather than buying a new sub

Most Australian experts agree that that ship sailed a long time ago. It would be like building a brand new electric self-driving luxury SUV on the platform of an early 1990s Saab 900.
Its still a newer more advanced option than Japan or Germany offered. The problem is the project was already overdue for kick off when the previous government announced a local clean sheet design was the preferred option back in 2010/11. At that point the evolved Collins, developed with Kockums, was the fall back option, with a scaled up existing option being seen as the worst way to go.

With the change of government Collins became a non starter because anti Collins rhetoric was pretty much Liberal Party policy since the mid 90s when it was used as a weapon to beat the then opposition leader to death, due to it being seen as his baby when he was defence minister. Ah politics, ignore the facts and go the narrative all the way.

Same with the local design option, the narrative was ASC, the builder of Collins, "couldn't build a canoe", so no local build, definitely no local design. All of this was part of the campaign to build and alliance with Japan, based on a submarine buy but basically ensured that there simply wasn't the time to change direction once it was realised that France was the only remaining option that came anywhere near meeting the requirement.

So in a nutshell a clean sheet Australian design could have been better than the Barracuda, and a son of Collins could have been better than a Barracuda, but by the time Naval Group were selected over MHI and TKMS to provide the design, it was too late to go back to potentially better options. Collins already requires a life extension to get through to the introduction of the Attacks, there simply isn't time to change tack now.
 

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Wow, I can't tell you how much this video depresses me - not the actual video or the narrator, but the fact that this whole important submarine program is obviously more to do with "business" and Australia's own little dirty 'Military/Political Complex' rather than a true fighting vessel for the RAN.

Peter Costello and old mate of Scomo - David Gazard WTF!!!

I truly can't believe after the hard learnt lessons from building the Collins class and the in-depth nature and intent of the Coles Review, we as a nation, as a government and as a Navy could f#@% up this second bite of the cherry!!
I'm now adimit that Australian has lost it's right to build submarines in Australia and that the Collins class should be replaced by an off-the-shelf design, tailored for the RAN's needs.!!!

Regards
Pioneer
 
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H_K

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So in a nutshell a clean sheet Australian design could have been better than the Barracuda, and a son of Collins could have been better than a Barracuda

Better at what though? Given the difficulties that Spain & the UK have had with their own designs, despite being much more experienced, what is the likelihood that Australia could successfully design and build a clean sheet or highly evolved Son of Collins? Would the risk and expense be lower, or actually higher?

Also what could be carried over from Collins? IMHO the answer is “almost nothing”, as the whole combat system, sensors, electrical and propulsion system would have to be replaced with 2020s technology, and the hull extended. That sounds like hardly less of a lift than starting with Barracuda or another foreign design.
 

uk 75

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Guess I was influenced by watching the 60s film version of "On the Beach" and meeting various Aussies over the years. I have never managed to visit but I am always glad to know its there.
Would have loved to see an Astute flying the Southern Cross Ensign. So hope you get the Collins Aussie boat.
Oh and in 1972 I got Dame Olivia Newton-John's autograph (only time I ever asked for one).
 

GTX

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other states were reliant on submarine work, especially as they were the main victims of government policy that killed local automotive manufacturing
The continuous subsidising of the Australian automotive sector had to end. The fact that the companies all pretty much announced ending of local production after Govt announcement that they would end subsidies showed that it was not competitive or commercially viable. They had decades to ween themselves of said assistance and failed to do so.
the existing Collins Class (which was a clean sheet design from the late 80s early 90s), and more importantly, than the French offering.
I thought the Collins Class were an enlarged version of the Västergötland-class and thus effectively less of a clean sheet than the Shortfin Barracudas

Nuclear, not going to happen, there simply is not the political will or social support.
Agreed.

both sides of politics have made a habit of cutting defence spending
I beg to differ. Whilst individual programs might have seen cuts etc, overall both sides of politics in Australia have been equally supportive of Defence spending both for new platforms and sustainment, at least for the last couple of decades. If anything, the support is growing in recent years.
 

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I still think a developed Collins with new tech is the answer. Keep most of the build money down under and the boat is hardly unfit for role being very bloody quiet and efficient. Seen the program where one to those dinosaurs evades and kills US hunter killers yet?

 

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Japanese and German options were found not to meet the stated requirements, legacy design features in each (both were the result of continuous evolution over decades) made them less advanced in many ways than the existing Collins Class (which was a clean sheet design from the late 80s early 90s), and more importantly, than the French offering.
I barely know where to begin here. The Collins is an enlarged evolution of Västergötland, with far greater range and completely different combat sytem, and that class is itself an evolution of the earlier Näcken class. It was never a clean-sheet design, or anything like it. The current state of the Collins, which has made a quite proud class out of some pretty questionable early decisions, isn't due to any inherent "advanced" design so much as a multi-national effort to turn them into the effective boats they are today. The idea that Sōryū is "less advanced" than Collins in basic design is fairly silly.
 

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other states were reliant on submarine work, especially as they were the main victims of government policy that killed local automotive manufacturing
The continuous subsidising of the Australian automotive sector had to end. The fact that the companies all pretty much announced ending of local production after Govt announcement that they would end subsidies showed that it was not competitive or commercially viable. They had decades to ween themselves of said assistance and failed to do so.
the existing Collins Class (which was a clean sheet design from the late 80s early 90s), and more importantly, than the French offering.
I thought the Collins Class were an enlarged version of the Västergötland-class and thus effectively less of a clean sheet than the Shortfin Barracudas

Nuclear, not going to happen, there simply is not the political will or social support.
Agreed.

both sides of politics have made a habit of cutting defence spending
I beg to differ. Whilst individual programs might have seen cuts etc, overall both sides of politics in Australia have been equally supportive of Defence spending both for new platforms and sustainment, at least for the last couple of decades. If anything, the support is growing in recent years.

I beg to differ. Traditionally, the Tories have spent decades criticising the idea of local manufacture of defence equipment. They have long espoused the idea of COTS for everything Defence needs. Then, under Howard they were elected and suddenly their tune changed when they saw that there were votes in Defence Industries which they could exploit. Since 1996 their policies have changed to supporting local manufacturers. Defence spending has increased. The ALP's problem was seeing the change of traditional working class electorates that "made things" to the Tories. The Tories have decided that it is better to spend rather than cut. Yet, you still have problems with the Minister of Defence claiming that he "didn't trust ASC to build a canoe" despite ASC pulling the then Governments bacon out of the fire with the COLLINS class. Yes, mistakes were made on the COLLINS class but overall, it was our first effort building a submarine and the RAN hung itself with the style of contract that was specified. The ALP then decided to fire nearly all the project managers and they went to the MSM which just loved to publish their stories. The COLLINS class is still the second quietest submarine around and the longest ranged conventional ones in service.

The BARRACUDA was not the best choice for a new submarine class. What should have been done was evolve the COLLINS class - add AIP or extra batteries and improve it's capabilities - fix its problems with noise and so on. However that opportunity has been missed. We are stuck with the BARRACUDA.

We could of course gone nuclear however that is far more difficult than most people understand. We have little in the way of a nuclear industry downunder and a long history of anti-nuclear feeling in our society. We were used as a nuclear test site by the British and people remember that and the French antics in the Pacific. We would need a long lead time, in order to train the nuclear professionals to service the submarines and an even longer time to build a nuclear enrichment plant to service the reactor cores. It would be hideously expensive and protracted. It would need a 15-20 year lead time. Can you really see any Government of either persuasion undertaking such a programme? I can't when it would be likely they'd be out of power before it was completed.
 

Volkodav

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Wow, I can't tell you how much this video depresses me - not the actual video or the narrator, but the fact that this whole important submarine program is obviously more to do with "business" and Australia's own little dirty 'Military/Political Complex' rather than a true fighting vessel for the RAN.

Peter Costello and old mate of Scomo - David Gazard WTF!!!

I truly can't believe after the hard learnt lessons from building the Collins class and the in-depth nature and intent of the Coles Review, we as a nation, as a government and as a Navy could f#@% up this second bite of the cherry!!
I'm now adimit that Australian has lost it's right to build submarines in Australia and that the Collins class should be replaced by an off-the-shelf design, tailored for the RAN's needs.!!!

Regards
Pioneer
Japanese and German options were found not to meet the stated requirements, legacy design features in each (both were the result of continuous evolution over decades) made them less advanced in many ways than the existing Collins Class (which was a clean sheet design from the late 80s early 90s), and more importantly, than the French offering.
I barely know where to begin here. The Collins is an enlarged evolution of Västergötland, with far greater range and completely different combat sytem, and that class is itself an evolution of the earlier Näcken class. It was never a clean-sheet design, or anything like it. The current state of the Collins, which has made a quite proud class out of some pretty questionable early decisions, isn't due to any inherent "advanced" design so much as a multi-national effort to turn them into the effective boats they are today. The idea that Sōryū is "less advanced" than Collins in basic design is fairly silly.
Soryu is an evolution of Barbel, a 1950s US design. According to my contacts, i.e. people still working on subs, they lack the fully rafted design of Collins and include many legacy features that have been superseded in Collins.

Claiming the Collins is simply an enlarged evolution of the Vastergotland is like saying the Boeing 787 is an enlarged evolution of the 737 because they have similar configurations and come from the same designer. The Collins and Gotland have far more features in common and are more closely related as they were designed by the same team at the same time, it is understood in the game that the Collins contract gave Sweden the money they required to design the Gotland. That said, scaling up the Vastergotland is what was sold to the political classes but the issues encountered with the Collins development and build demonstrate just how inaccurate this was.

An example of the fundamental differences can be seen in the welding issues found in the Swedish fabricated sections for the first hull, the design and fabrication techniques required were so different that the highly experienced Swedish sub builders delivered dangerously substandard sections that had to be completely reworked during the first full cycle docking. Ironically the new Australian workforce, which due to its inexperience worked within a much more highly controlled environment as a mitigation to their inexperience, delivered conforming product. Had it been a simple evolution the experienced Kockums fabricators would have had no problems and actually had no issues building the related Gotlands.

The riskiest path forward is scaling up and down a design. By all means pick and use improved and evolved systems in a new hull, if you have a MOTS solution for the hull that meets requirements then go for that, but if you don't you are better off with a clean sheet for the platform. Anything else is a complex and risky compromise with many unforeseen consequences, as proved by the Collins build.

What you have fallen into is the political narrative that a broken design was fixed, rather than the truth known to everyone who has ever worked on a major project, there will always be development issues that need to be addressed, no matter who the designer or who the builder is. In the middle of a review into another project I worked the designer / builder of the product we were building under licence was caught out when we discovered and proved that they had encountered the exact same issue we had during their build, the thing is they had lied to our customer and told them that it was our incompetence and not their design at fault.

That is the Collins project in a nutshell and the same is happening with the Attack, there are issues that occur on every project that are happening on this one but the narrative, depending on your bias is either Aussies can't build submarines, the French are bullies, should have gone Astute/Virginia/Soryu/Type 214/6 etc.
 

Volkodav

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other states were reliant on submarine work, especially as they were the main victims of government policy that killed local automotive manufacturing
The continuous subsidising of the Australian automotive sector had to end. The fact that the companies all pretty much announced ending of local production after Govt announcement that they would end subsidies showed that it was not competitive or commercially viable. They had decades to ween themselves of said assistance and failed to do so.
the existing Collins Class (which was a clean sheet design from the late 80s early 90s), and more importantly, than the French offering.
I thought the Collins Class were an enlarged version of the Västergötland-class and thus effectively less of a clean sheet than the Shortfin Barracudas

Nuclear, not going to happen, there simply is not the political will or social support.
Agreed.

both sides of politics have made a habit of cutting defence spending
I beg to differ. Whilst individual programs might have seen cuts etc, overall both sides of politics in Australia have been equally supportive of Defence spending both for new platforms and sustainment, at least for the last couple of decades. If anything, the support is growing in recent years.
They were sold as enlarged Vastergotland but were very different. Just consider the structural differences alone in what is effectively a pressure vessel when you increase its diameter by roughly 30%. How much commonality is there between a legacy Hornet and a Rhino? They look very similar, they come from the same design house, but how much commonality is there? In the 50s and 60s the F/A/18C/D would have gotten a new name and designator, let alone the very different E/F.

Several months after the electronic governor change was deleted from a planned availability on HMAS Collins as a cost saving measure, she cracked a crank in a diesel generator in an engineering casualty that (as I understand it) the governor would likely have prevented.

Don't get me started on the automotive industry, lets just leave it as when i was working for one company jury rigging decades old test equipment, fabricating new rigs and making do with an unsealed test track, because there wasn't the funding to get the stuff we needed, the admin, marketing and engineering offices were completely refurbished. The rumour was the money came with strings to support local small businesses, i.e. could be used for decor but not for engineering as no one with political pull supplied what we needed for R&D. Then again we ended up doing lots of work for Japan to verify their computer modelling as we actually gave them real results, not the sexed up ones their own test facilities provided their regulator.

The real pain in losing the automotive sector was the loss of the nursery that grew so many talented engineers, designers and technical officers, as well as the loss of so many high paying jobs that sustained so many small businesses. there was also the supply chain and supporting industries that the automotive industry proved critical mass to.
 

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