Replacement of Australia's Collins Class Submarines

Rickshaw

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Folks, talk of Australia getting SSNs is a pointless discussion. You might as well be talking about Australia somehow revitalising the TSR.2 program to replace their Super Hornets as they are both equally likely.
It seems some posters are unable and unwilling to understand the Australian situation.
 

Volkodav

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The greater pain and frustration up front will allow us to devest of French influence in the future.

They already tried that approach through the Collins 25 years ago - except with the Swedes in place of the French. Did not worked too well... who's next ?
It worked very well until it became a political issue and then a contractual one with the sale of Kockums to HDW. ASC became the submarine design authority, ASC set up a research and development arm, Deep Blue Tech, to design a new generation submarine, Deep blue Tech was staffed with submarine experts recruited from not only the best in Australia but many from overseas, there was an extensive technical alliance with GD EB and the USN as well as DSTO and government commitment to design and build a new generation submarine.

In rapid succession there was a global economic crisis, multiple PMs, a focus on achieving budget surplus for political reasons that pushed out the sub program. The decision was made belatedly to go for an indigenous design as the best option, with an evolved Collins done with Kockums as the fall back but this changed in 2013/14 when the government changed.

The new government supported an agenda developed by the then secretary of defence who was a former head of foreign affairs and trade to kill off submarine design and build capability in Australia in favour of buying submarines directly from Japan to under pin a trade and defence treaty being pursued with Japan. The priority here wasn't Australian defence capability, let alone industrial development, but rather cementing an alliance, they were quite prepared to buy submarines that were inferior to the current Collins class if it got Japan as an ally. Political support came in the plan to develop submarine maintenance in Western Australia and shut down everything in South Australia.

The end result of this was Deep Blue Tech was disbanded and many of its best people moved on, some stayed but moved into sustainment and upgrade related roles on Collins. The Japanese plan failed because of internal politics when South Australian (as well as a number of non-Western Australian) members of government rebelled and fought for local building of the best option after an open competition. Japan lost, France won and we are now back rebuilding a capability that we had as little as eight years ago.

The problem was politics and short sighted bright ideas overriding support for long term plans and decades of investment in capability. It takes very little time and effort to tear down decades worth of effort.
 

Volkodav

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Much easier to just buy the Barracuda SSN design off the shelf.

Build hull #1 in France and increase Australian content progressively in hulls 2 and 3. By hull 4 the whole sub could be Australian built, except for the reactor module which would still be supplied/assembled in France then shipped to Oz by heavy lift ship, ready for use. Let the French handle the nuclear fuel processing and waste disposal.
And support them how? It would be more expensive to buy and operate SSNs than the design, build and operate SSGs as planned.
 

Volkodav

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Talk of leasing US SSNs or purchasing but relying on the US for maintenance/support goes against two of the Australian Government's Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities (SICPs)

Which they've pretty much abandoned anyway by going to the Attack class aquisition. Those priorities, if properly financed and adhered to, would already have seen a line of evolved Collins class boats rolling out of sheds and into the water.

Like I said, the Virginia leasing/purchasing idea comes up every few years. Usually after reports of the cost of buying/building the new Attack class appear in the news.
No the Attack class programs and its issues relate directly to the governments pursuit of developing sovereign industrial capability. Naval group would like nothing more than the Australian government stepping back and saying "design and build x number of submarines for us" rather than forcing them to involve us in the design and supply chain. The greater pain and frustration up front will allow us to devest of French influence in the future. given their track record, they're just as likely to step away from the commitment

I agree, that's my fear as well, that we'll be right back here in 25 years.
Shipbuilding is very cyclical in Australia. We have a distinctive cultural cringe in that there is an "elite" in Australia who despite all evidence to contrary seem to believe that Australian's cant design and build anything. The want to concentrate on what they understand, primary industry, finance, tourism etc. and have no understanding of science, technology, manufacturing etc. it is beyond their intellect and understanding, but as they believe themselves to be geniuses and the rest of us to be morons, they must be right and we must be wrong.

End result, every time we overcome the naysayers and achieve what they said was impossible, rather than let us build on the investment they scrap the whole lot and declare it was a waste of time and money. When it is proven that they were wrong momentum and critical mass has been lost and we have to start from scratch.

Just imagine if every time Ford introduced a new model all the designers and engineers were sacked, all the people who built the factory were sacked and then when the model was ready to be replaced the factory was bulldozed and the new car was planned to be bought from overseas, before the decision was reversed, a new design team set up and a new factory built. Insane isn't it, well that's how Australian politicians acquired ships and submarines for the Royal Australian Navy..
 

Foo Fighter

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There is just no way for an external purchase to compete on price with a home built and designed product. While the may be some additional cost involved, the money stays in the home market and money is returned to the nations books via employed people paying tax and buying services INSIDE the home nation.

The Ockers are capable of designing and building anything they put their minds to but, just as in the UK, differing political parties interfere with the process. Past time where these projects shouls be protected and maintained during party change. Far too much money has been wasted to ignore THAT need.

The UK might have had CATOBAR carriers but for that. ETC......
 

Archibald

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I would say that keeping a technological edge and industrial base is never easy for any country. Take France aerospace industry
- pioneering and triumphant 1906 1918
- gutted wrecked at rock bottom 1922 - 1952
- a difficult rebuild 1948 1958
- up and downs since then
Same for the rocket or nuclear tech base and industry: future is never 100% assured. Diamant up, Europa down, Ariane 1 - 5 triumphant, Ariane 6... ugh, SpaceX. In France both left and right have long acknowledged the benefits of a large and strong aerospace industry and funded it as needed although money was always in limited supply. There had been ups and downs nonetheless - like Giscard in 1975 willing to cut down large Gaullist projects ; or Jospin Minister Claude Allegre in the late 90's.
 
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GTX

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to under pin a trade and defence treaty being pursued with Japan. The priority here wasn't Australian defence capability, let alone industrial development, but rather cementing an alliance, they were quite prepared to buy submarines that were inferior to the current Collins class if it got Japan as an ally.
Don't be surprised if this isn't the only Defence Acquisition where this comes into play. It isn't always about Defence Alliances as well. More often it is just about Balance of Payments aspects.

That all said, from a Defence Capability perspective, I am more interested in making sure the Sustainment solution is Australian based rather than the Acquisition solution. The Acquisition might give jobs etc for a few years etc (or longer if able to export) but the sustainment is about ensuring the ADF is able to operate/sustain its capabilities for years to come and to be operationally ready to fight if need be.
 

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